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22 surgeries, $55 million and one Hall of Fame

Darren Dreifort is going to be honored with induction into the national surgery hall of fame.

Actually, the oft-injured and frequently maligned former Dodgers pitcher will be entering the College Baseball Hall of Fame. But is there any doubt he could qualify for both?

The L.A. Times notes that Dreifort will be inducted on Friday in Lubbock, Texas, assuming, in his words, “whether I can walk, or how well I’m getting around.”

It’s nice to see the right-hander honored for his accomplishments at Wichita State, but is a painful reminder for Dodgers fans of how injuries derailed the career of a promising pitcher chosen one spot behind Alex Rodriguez in the 1993 draft. The Dodgers paid Dreifort nearly $64 million over the course of his career, including a $55 million deal before the 2001 season. For all that money, they got a 48-60 record and 274 appearances as a starter and reliever over parts of 11 seasons.

The grisly details:

  • Dreifort just had his 22nd surgery, this one on his hip.
  • It was his 20th surgery since leaving college, and his eighth since his last game with the Dodgers, Aug. 16, 2004.
  • Has had two elbow reconstructions, and twice sat out entire seasons.
  • And even though retired, his luck has not changed.

    These days, Dreifort appears to be in peak condition, dressed for an interview in shorts, a tight T-shirt and running shoes. He notes, however, that he experiences almost constant pain.

    “I’m doing nothing,” he says on the eve of his most recent visit to the operating room, “and I’m still having surgery.”