LOS ANGELES. It is not uncommon for a Major League Baseball player to live in one city during the off-season and work in another for most of the year. Thousands of miles can separate their personal and professional lives.
Therein lies the irony of appointing Andrew Heaney to minor league rehab in Oklahoma City. The pitcher was born there. He still lives there during the off-season. This did not escape the attention of Heaney, who spent most of his nine seasons in the big leagues on the West Coast.
“It was fun to be at home, going to the field in Oklahoma City,” he said. “It was a little weird. It was one of those things, like I could see family and hang out at my house. It didn’t change anything I did. It still felt like a business trip.”
Heaney will resume his regular routine with the Dodgers on Sunday when he is activated from the injured list to start against the Cleveland Guardians. This will be Heaney’s first start since April 17th.
Two starts before he was ruled out with left shoulder inflammation, Heaney denied an earned run of 10⅓ innings. He used the updated slider to strike out 16 batters.
After two rehab starts with Triple-A OKC, Heaney threw five close innings for Double-A Tulsa on Tuesday. According to manager Dave Roberts, the left-hander threw a sideline session on Friday and stretched out to pitch six innings on Sunday.
Heaney’s main smasher is now more like a sweeper, with a more horizontal motion than the traditional slider he threw for the Angels in 2015-21. His success in the future may depend on the effectiveness of this single pitch.
“Throwing a fastball is what I do well and am most comfortable with,” Heaney said. “The slider is a different grip, a different thought process. At the beginning of the first rehabilitation, everything was not quite the way I wanted. The next one was a little better. The one in Tulsa was definitely the best. Just trying to keep that momentum, that feeling, just trying to get back to where I was at the beginning of the season.”
On June 5, Heaney was able to celebrate his 30th birthday at home. Four days later, many of his friends and relatives came to see him play in person and then visited him afterwards. It was his first professional start in his hometown.
“It was different. It was cool,” Heaney said. “I’m glad to be back.”
LIST CHANGE IS COMING
MLB will impose a limit of 13 active pitchers starting Monday. For the Dodgers, that means change is coming.
They must remove two pitchers from their 10-man bullpen and add one position player before their nine-game trip to Cincinnati, Atlanta and Denver begins on Tuesday. This kicks off a stretch of 20 games over 20 days that will test the limits of the bullpen who are used to throwing one inning at a time.
“Those 10 guys that we have in the paddock right now… three or four can get one plus,” Roberts said. “If we can put together three opportunities together with two guys, I think we have that opportunity.”
Left-handers Caleb Ferguson and Alex Vesia are the team’s only active relief pitchers yet to throw more than one inning at a time. In the past, Ferguson, a multiple reliever and starter, has spent most of this season rebuilding his stamina after missing all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.
Among other active Dodgers pitchers, Yancy Almonte has recorded more than three strikeouts in most of his games (six). Evan Phillips (four), David Price (five) and Brousdard Gratherol (six) are the only ones to have more than two multi-inning games this season.
Mitch White is an obvious candidate to fly in from Oklahoma City to ease some of the burden. He’s used to the hybrid starter/assistant role, going 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in nine games this season. With Heaney back in the rotation on Sunday, this allowed White to return to the pitching role for a while.
“I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at some point, just don’t know when,” Roberts said of White. “I appreciate what he has done for the club this season. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Cleveland (RHP Cal Quantrill, 4-3, 3.38 ERA) v Dodgers (LHP Julio Urias, 3-6, 2.80 ERA) Saturday 4:15 PM Fox (Ch. 11) 570:00