Chris Westervelt -- Healthy At Last?

Whether it's because of their body's makeup ,sheer bad luck or a combination thereof, some players get tagged "injury-prone." That's a label that Chris Westervelt first acquired in college and one he has had little success in shaking in this, his second professional season.

Westervelt, a catcher, hurt his arm so severely in college at Stetson University, a Florida school, that he had an operation that cost him a lot of playing time. When he came back, the weakened wing gained him another label -- that of "an offensive catcher."

Certainly, the bat was always there speaking for him. He hit in such a big way as a senior -- .350, 11 home runs, 18 doubles, 56 RBI and a .484 on-base percentage that he was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year. That capped a collegiate career in which he hit .350 with 35 homers, 44 doubles, 135 RBI and a .442 on-base average.

Ability to produce like that will get you drafted. It certainly did for Chris-twice. In 2003, Oakland tabbed him but, wary of that injured arm, way down in the 40th round. That didn't produce enough revenue for him to sign so he was still available when the Dodgers picked him in the 11th round in 2004.

Signing, he went to Ogden where he kept right on hitting, .341-10-37 in 49 games. True, the arm hadn't come around as much as L.A. would hope for but, again, a guy who can swing a bat like that draws your attention.

Then this spring that injury virus or whatever it is struck again. This time, it was a broken hammate bone in his left hand. So, when the regular season teams departed Dodgertown in early April, he had to be left behind to rehab.That was coming along when a twisted ankle further delayed the process.

Finally, he's been able to battle through the disabilities and report to Columbus which had been where the Dodgers figured he'd be this summer. Naturally, all this left him behind the others, particularly in his timing at the plate as he managed only three hits in his first 21 at-bats for a miserly .107 mark.

It's nice to report, though, that Chris is looking much more like the offensive threat that he'd always been previously. About a week ago, he broke out in a big way with a five-hit game against Asheville. He's been at it ever since, so much so that he's become the regular Catfish catcher. Manager Travis Barbary is coming to rely on him at the plate so much so that in a doubleheader Tuesday, he caught the first game, then was the designated hitter in the second.

He's pulled his marks up considerably for they now stand .259-1-9 in the 15 games he played. That may not look like much but notice that it's over 100 points better than the way he started.

Chris, who lives in Batesville, Ark. now, is a solid 5-11, 210-pounder. Staying healthy may remain am "iffy" proposition with him, though he seems ready to produce some thunder to add considerable aid to the Catfish in their second-half quest for respectability.

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