With all the attention focused on Hanley Ramirez and the worrisome thought that he could miss two months or more due to a finger injury sustained in the finale of the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday, little attention was given to another cut made by the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Chris Withrow, who has been dealing with injury himself this Spring, was optioned to Minor League camp on Wednesday.
Chris Withrow is transitioning from starter to reliever. Photo: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Withrow couldn’t participate in Spring Training until three weeks in due to back spasms. Luck wasn’t on Withrow’s side on Sunday when he was hit on his shin by a line drive from the second batter that he faced. He only sustained a bruise, but the bruised shin wasn’t the first incident in which he managed to escape a worse injury. Withrow and his wife were involved in a car accident during the offseason. The car flipped over, but luckily they both sustained only minor injuries.
The 23-year old still has the arm that made him a first-rounder, but this will be his seventh professional season, and he still hasn’t reached the Majors. He’s been with the AA-Chattanooga Lookouts since his breakout 2009 season, and last year he was relegated to relief duty after struggling with his command and injuries. A power pitcher, Withrow’s fastball hovers around 93, but has been clocked up to 99 mph. He is improving his power curveball, a great strikeout pitch. He needs to work on lowering his walk rate as most young pitchers normally do. His BB/9 sits at 5.0 through 6 seasons of minor league work. He also has a changeup which he has been working on, but needs further development.
The Dodgers converted Withrow to a reliever last summer, and he had a 2.37 ERA with 19 strikeouts over 19 innings of work out of the Chattanooga bullpen thereafter. Unless the Dodgers plan to revert him back to start, Withrow could begin the season back in AA.
The Dodgers now have 39 players in Major League camp.