Horlacher 's On a New Mission Now

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints- Mormons to most of us- are usually called upon to devote two years of their life to missionary work. That's not an absolute rule, there are exemptions made in special cases. The Osmond family, for example, though they practice that faith, didn't have to so you never saw Donnie and Marie going door-to-door in any neighborhood.

Athletes are sometimes excused too but, though David Horlacher certainly is one, he faithfully went on a mission after high school. Though, he's a pitcher of some regard, he wasn't sent anywhere where baseball is played but, rather, to Chile for two years. Down there, they kick soccer balls around pretty well but you're lucky to find somebody to play catch with when it comes to the diamond sport.

After his mission, Horlacher went to Dixie Junior College, which sounds like it's located in the heart of Alabama but is actually in Mormon country- Utah. In fact, it's in his home town, also called Dixie. In 2003, he got his first chance to play professionally when he was drafted by the Indians.

But he was chosen down in there 49th round where you'll probably get a Happy Meal at McDonald's for a bonus. So, it was easy for him to say "No" to Cleveland and accept a scholarship to the big school for members of his religion, Brigham Young University.

His two years there saw him progress on the mound enough that the Dodgers picked him in the eighth round of the 2005 draft and, this time, he signed. He to stay home in Utah, too, being assigned to Ogden.

However, there was further delay because he came in nursing a bad back so spent most of his time getting over that. As it was he managed 11 games toward the latter part of the season, throwing well as hitters managed only a .179 average off his delivery. He wound up with a 1.69 ERA.

This year, he was still bothered by injury problems so was left behind in the extended camp for a time. He finally got going at Columbus and has since made his way into the rotation.

It hasn't been smooth going for him as a 1-3, 5.59 record would indicate, though he has been making progress. Thursday he was at his best yet, going seven innings in which he allowed only three hits. And his 53 strikeouts in 56 innings is an indicator that the stuff is there.

Horlacher has an ideal frame for pitching at 6-4 with 175 pounds spread out on it. He's not a flame thrower, particularly, with his fast ball resting in the high 80's and reaching into the low 90's upon occasion. His out pitch is a classic curve - the 12 to 6 variety - which he loves to throw at any time in the count.

Because of his religious work and four years of college, at 24 he's older than most of his teammates. But that's okay. He's had a rewarding life and he's happy to take it from here. And if he shows like he did the other night, the Dodgers are happy to have him. Often, pitchers are late bloomers. He may be another.