Sidelined Smit Hoping to return Soon

The Dodger hierarcy was in Florida for a meeting and while there, quite naturally viewed some of the players on the affiliated minor league teams located there. That gave general manager Ned Colletti his first look at top draft choice Clayton Kershaw. "Very impressive," said Ned afterwards. "You could certainly see why he was a first-round pick."

One pitcher Ned and the rest didn't get to see was another the Dodgers have reasonably high hopes for. That's because Kyle Smit hasn't been doing any pitching for some time now.

The cause is muscular spasms in the back and they've meant that Gulf Coast manager Juan Bustabad hasn't been able to use a person that he had counted on for some key innings. And it's occurred at a time when he's been short on pitching, anyhow.

Smit is a 6-3 righthander who weighs only 165 pounds so he has the type of build that it it figured will fill out nicely with strength training. As it is, he throws a fast ball that reaches into the low 90's now and should increase in velocity as he gains strength. With that in mind, he's been on a weight program.

That is, he was until the spasms interrupted proceedings. As it is, he managed to get into only four games before the injury ocurred with results that weren't too pleasant, losing two decisions.

The Dodgers strongly belive he's capable of much more than that down the road. They picked him in the fifth round of June's draft after he was universally acknowledged as the best high school pitcher in Nevada.

He's from Reno where he allows there were one or two good teams that tested him for pro ball. He never had college in his plans, wanting to get his career going although he was surprised that it was the Dodgers that chose him since he felt some other teams showed more interest.

Smit throws a slider and a changeup in addition to that fast ball. Or, at least, he will when he gets healthy. That shouldn't be too long now. He's been feeling better so these Dodgers may have him for some key games down the road.

Then, they hope that he can show that, like Kershaw, he can be a valuable pickup. Maybe he can even get a chance to show that to Colletti and company.