Dodgers Sign Veteran Eric DuBose

Eric DuBose did not intend to play this season. He was still throwing and staying in shape at home in Alabama. He also agreed to a contract with the Bridgeport Bluefish, but in his mind he was finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize why he should leave his family to play independent baseball.

DuBose, a 32-year-old former big league left-hander, would have had to leave his wife, Whitney, and their 16-month-old daughter, Josie, to travel to Connecticut to play for roughly $2,100 a month. It didn't seem like the right thing for him to do. But a religious service this spring changed DuBose's course of action.

"We were just sitting there and it was the end of the service," DuBose said. "Our youth minister ... He called me up and he said, 'I want to pray over you.' And he just got up there and he said, 'God's telling me that you're not done yet.' And the youth group rallied around and laid hands on me and was praying for me and my wife.

We got done and I just went back to the chair and we sat down. I was just like, 'Hey, so much for me trying to make a decision. God's got this under control. And I just looked over and I was like, 'Hey, I guess this sort of makes my decision. I'm playing."'

The change of plans has paid off significantly for DuBose. Not only did he evolve into an All-Star pitcher in the Atlantic League, late Saturday night he found what he was truly looking for when he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

DuBose, who had talked with the Dodgers earlier this season and spent parts of five seasons with the Baltimore Orioles from 2002-06, will report to Jacksonville in the Class AA Southern League.

He becomes the second Bluefish pitcher and the fourth player overall signed by a major league organization this season. Left-hander Derrick Ellison (Milwaukee Brewers), outfielder Adam Greenberg (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and catcher Brian Peterson (Baltimore Orioles) have also been signed.

"The way that he's pitched here, and then not only that, just his career ... he's a legitimate big league guy," Bluefish general manager Todd Marlin said. "Good for him. And we hope that he gets a legitimate shot to help somebody on a major league level. You never know."

DuBose, a master of changing speeds, was 6-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts) for the Bluefish. He worked 101 innings and was second in the league in ERA, tied for first with two complete games and had 11 quality starts. Along with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs duo of Joe Gannon (3.87) and Ryan Bicondoa (3.96), he was one of three pitchers in the league that had thrown a minimum of 73 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA.

DuBose had a run of eight straight quality starts from May 26 through July 4. He was also unbeaten in his last 12 starts dating back to a loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Camden May 17. It was the longest such streak by a member of the Bluefish since Kevin Henthorne opened the 2004 season unbeaten in his first 13 starts.

DuBose was 6-0 with a 3.79 ERA in his last 12 starts (78 innings), with nine quality starts during that span.

"I think (changing speeds is) just my approach to the game that I feel like I have to do to be successful," DuBose said. "I can throw the fastball anywhere from 76 to 89 and not consider it a changeup. I consider it a fastball and then I'm able to change speeds on my breaking ball and change speeds on my changeup and make them different pitches. And I think that's one thing that makes it tough on a hitter."

DuBose, who was drafted 21st overall by the Oakland Athletics in 1997, had said prior to being signed that if he did not get signed by a major league organization this season that this would be his final season.

There is a chance should DuBose pitch well for Jacksonville that he will be promoted to Class AAA Las Vegas, one step away from where he dreams to again compete before he retires.

"Everybody that's been there knows what it takes and knows that you're not that far away," DuBose said. "It's funny how things can happen so quick. I don't think it's realistic for me to think I'm going to go and be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter on a big league team right now. But do I think I can go back and compete at Triple A and give myself a shot at making it back to the big leagues? Absolutely."

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