LOS ANGELES – Rubby De La
Rosa was in his hotel room in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday
morning when he received a call from Dodgers farm director
The call was unexpected.
Less than 13 months removed from a reconstructive elbow operation, De La Rosa
was being called back up to the major leagues. He was taking the roster spot of
former closer Javy Guerra, who was sent down
to triple-A Albuquerque to work on his command.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” De
La Rosa said.
He was thinking he would make his return in September, when teams
can have as many as 40 players on their active roster.
Armed with a 100-mph
fastball, De La Rosa broke into the major leagues last season at 22 as a
starting pitcher. He was 4-5 with a 3.71 earned-run average and struck out 60
batters in 60 2/3 innings.
But he blew out his elbow and was forced to undergo
Tommy John surgery in early August. Manager Don
Mattingly said the Dodgers’ long-term
view of De La Rosa is as a starting pitcher. However, the plan is for De La Rosa
to be used as a reliever for the remainder of this season.
“We will handle him a
little more carefully,” Mattingly said.
To prepare for his return to the
Dodgers, De La Rosa pitched in four minor league games — one with the rookie
league team in Arizona and three with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He struck out 12
and walked three over 12 scoreless innings. He said his fastball was clocked as
high as 99 mph. Can he touch 100 again?
“I can do it right now, but I don’t want
to,” he said. “I’m still a little scared to put in all my gas.”