Doctors Say Greg Miller's Should is 'Fine'

A shaft of good news punctured the grey clouds surrounding the Dodgers when pitching prospect Greg Miller's ailing left shoulder was found to be structurally sound after he was examined by team physician Dr. Frank Jobe last week. While Miller won't return to the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League because their season ends Nov. 10, but he is expected to be ready for action by the start of spring training.

"Everything checked out great," Dodgers scouting director Logan White told the Los Angeles Daily News. "It was just a case of him having laid off for a few weeks (after the minor-league season), then he came back out and was feeling pretty good, so he ran it up to 95 (mph). He got a little too high with his arm angle, and when he does that, he impinges (his shoulder) a little bit, and that gets him a little tender."

While player development director Terry Collins said last week the Dodgers wouldn't send another player to replace Miller on the Desert Dogs' roster, he has changed his mind. Right-hander Casey Hoorelbeke, whom the Dodgers signed two years ago as an undrafted free agent and who since has gone 15-8 with a 3.12 ERA in two seasons at Class A, will fill Miller's spot the rest of the AFL season.

Hoorelbeke, 25, had been pitching in Instructional League games at the Dodgers' spring training complex in Vero Beach, Fla., before that league's season was shut down because of Hurricane Wilma.

Miller, still two weeks shy of his 21st birthday, missed all of last season and most of this year after shoulder surgery. He returned this summer and was used cautiously, working just 22 innings over 17 appearances, mostly in relief, in the Rookie League for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers, at Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville.

He sparkled at each level

Over four games in the GCL he went 0-0, 2.25, striking out 14 in 12 innings of work while holding opposing hitters to a .159 average. At Vero Beach posted an 0.93 ERA in five games, fanning 10 in 9.2 innings and at AA Jacksonville he worked 13 innings over 12 games, saving two games, recording a 2,77 earned run average and striking out 17.

Because of the previous surgeries and because of Miller's status as the organization's top left-handed prospect, club officials have been especially cautious.

"If this was anybody other than Greg, they probably would have kept pitching," White said. "But Terry and the trainers want to err on the side of caution, which I think is great."

DePodesta on shaky ground?--The Los Angeles Times reported that a high ranking American League official said that many in baseball believe that Dodger general manger, Paul DePodesta, is on the bubble and that owner Frank McCourt may be looking at GM candidates Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Mark Newman, Jim Bowden and Kevin Towers.

Dodger sources told the Times that club insiders believe DePodesta has another year to satisfy the McCourts, which seems reasonable enough, given the injuries that undermined the past season.

"But little in the McCourt occupancy of the Dodgers suggests rationality, particularly in the realm of the public relations department, where employee turnover has reached a Steinbrenner-like pace and attracted the attention of the highest offices in baseball", the Times said.

Apparently people in the commissioner's office are starting to ask questions.

In a disturbing turn of events, The Times also said Dodger employees and prospective employees, according to their sources, have been directed by the McCourts and their lieutenants to "think of the McCourts as the brand and the Dodgers as the product."