Pilkington Retires; Welch Leaves Coaching

VERO BEACH, Fla.- The bulk of the Dodger minor league pitchers and catchers are reporting on Friday but it will be without a pitcher once regarded as a prime prospect and a pitching coach.

Righthander Brian Pilkington has notified Director of Player Personnel Terry Collins of his decision to retire and onetime Cy Young winner Bob Welch, who had been a coach at Ogden last year and who was slated to handle to same role again in 2006, handed in his resignation for personal reasons.

In 2001, when the club was without a first-round choice, they made Pilkington their first selection when they took him in the second round of the draft out of Santiago High in suburban Garden Grove, Cal.

The nephew of pitching great Bert Blyleven, Pilkington reached his height in 2003 when he led all Dodger minors leaguers with 13 victories, 10 at Vero Beach and three after he moved up to Jacksonville.

He seemed bound for the big leagues then but instead had a shoulder impingement that forced him to miss all of 2004 after surgery. He came back last year to record a 7-9, 3.91 mark at Vero Beach but over the winter began to feel shoulder pain again.

When Dr. Frank Jobe checked him and said further surgery couldn't help, that he would have to change his delivery, Pilkington decided instead to retire and pursue a career in law enforcement, another long-time interest. He is currently enrolled in a police academy in Southern California.

Welch, who won lasting Dodger fame for his memorable strikeout of Reggie Jackson in the 1978 World Series, went on to win the Cy Young Award for the Oakland A's in 1990 and to record 211 major league victories in all.

It should be noted that he has not suffered a relapse of the alcoholism that plagued his career but rather has matters to take care of that precluded his leaving home at this time.

Two other players are also retiring. Catcher/outfielder Mike Nixon, the third-round draft choice in 2004, as expected, will leave baseball to play football as a defensive back for Arizona State as he had previously hinted.

Nixon was named the Arizona high school Player of the Year in 2004 but at that time forsook the gridiron for the Dodgers. Last season, he mostly served as a backup catcher at Las Vegas where he hit .226 but felt he had a slight chance at the big leagues so made the decision to leave baseball, feeling his future would be served in football.

First baseman/outfielder Colie "Trey" Dyson also notified Collins of his decision to leave the game. Dyson came to the Dodgers in 2004 as the result of a trade with Cleveland and hit .274-6-36 for Vero Beach. However, he spent most of last season in rehab after a shoulder injury, playing only 10 games at Vero and two in the Gulf Coast League.