Orenduff Getting Ready to Make the Move

Justin Orenduff was a non-roster invitee this spring with the parent Dodgers. While he enjoyed the la dolce vita perks that even such peripheral candidates receive, it was, all things considered, rather an interruption for him because, " All I did was sit around in the bullpen. I wasn't getting in any innings to get ready for the season. "So, it was not a hardship when he was told to report to the minor league camp."

For Orenduff was a realist. He was in the big league camp to display his wares as one of the more promising of the young pitching hopefuls not with any chance of making it up. Not that he isn't quite capable of seizing an opportunity, you understand. As in 2003 when he was selected to compete for a spot on Team USA.

"I was one of the last people invited," he recalls, "So, I was determined just to go and enjoy the experience." He certainly made it enjoyable for he not only won a spot on the team, he became a standout, going 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA that included a two-hit shutout of Brazil in the Pan American Games.

That he says," Is what got me drafted when I was because it got me noticed more than what I did in college." College was at Virginia Commonwealth, which, it should be noted, is not like playing for Stanford or Texas or Arizona State or some other stud program. His backing at the school consisted in the main of inexperienced players whose inabilities in the field often kept him out there longer than he should.

The Dodgers, though, knew what he was capable of so made him a supplemental selection after the first round of the 2004 draft. They decided to treat him cautiously because of the number of innings he'd piled up already so sent him to Ogden rather than more advanced ball. As it was, his record there was an unpreposing 2-3, 4.74.

They were undeterred by that and advanced him to Vero Beach last spring. He entered the year as that team's number two starter, ranked behind Chuck Tiffany, but soon became its most dependable man, posting a 5-3, 2.24 mark by mid-season when he was chosen for the league's All-Star game. He didn't get to pitch in it, being promoted to Jacksonville, instead.

There he became a strong member of the staff for the team ranked No. 1 in prospects in all the minors. He was 5-2, 4.07 for the Suns, earning that spring invitation in the process. He's now back with the Suns again, once more trying to force his way upward.

His lack of spring work was noticeable in his first start in which he was pounded for 10 hits and seven runs in 2.2 innings. His second start, however, was more like what can be expected of him as he allowed just four hits and two earned runs in five innings.

For he certainly has the pitches - a fast ball in the low 90's and an excellent slider with a sharp break. And his feel for pitching is well above average. He's ranked among the elite of the pitchers in the system for good reason.

He has a mission this year- and that's to be up with the big club before the season is over. And this time he'll be there not to soak up the atmosphere but as a contributing member of the staff.