Aaron Harang tried to remember the last time he regularly pitched out of the bullpen. He reached back and pulled out Oakland, “10 years ago. I was a rookie breaking in. I was the fifth guy. I’d fill in to start.”
Actually, the most relief appearances Harang has made in a single season was two, back in 2010 — Cincinnati, not Oakland. You can forgive the mental lapse. Of his 299 career games, Harang has started all but six. He is not looking forward to number seven.
“It’s not easy when you’re used to a set routine,” he said.
Harang’s warm-up routine is about 30 minutes by his own admission. Making it even harder, the pitcher said, is that the Dodgers haven’t even told him how they plan to use him.
“The last time I talked to them, (relieving) was mentioned as a possibility,” he said.
That may well be true. Don Matingly said Monday that he last time he addressed his spare starters — Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Harang — was Monday. Neither Mattingly nor Harang discussed specific details of the conversation but it seems like something was lost in translation.
“It’s a conversation that we will need to have,” It’s a conversation we had. I told him that’s where he’s going to be. Maybe he didn’t quite accept it.”
As of Monday morning, he had not. “I’ve always been a starter. I tried to keep the mentality I was going to be starting,” Harang said.
If the chasm between team and player isn’t large enough yet, Harang went further when asked if it felt like he was in “no-man’s land.”
“Yeah, pretty much,” he said.
If you wagered on Harang in a first-Dodger-to-be-traded pool, you’re looking smart right about now. Mattlingly spoke glowingly of Chris Capuano, praising his versatility to pitch as a left-handed specialist and a long reliever capable of retiring both left- and right-handers. Ted Lilly is on the disabled list to start the season and there’s really no telling how long the Dodgers plan to keep him there. Lilly can pitch, but never got stretched out to a starter’s routine in spring training.
And for Harang?
“Aaron’s going to be more of a challenge trying to figure out how long it takes him to get loose,” Mattingly said.
Sounds like it’s time for Harang to schedule another meeting, either with the manager or the front office.