David Herndon: The Lost Dog From Rancho Cucamonga


“Natural sink” isn’t necessarily a phrase you want to hear about something.  If, for instance, a Realtor was using it, that’s not a property you’re going to want to invest a lot more time in.

But if a pitching coach like Rich Dubee’s using it, chances are, he’s very pleased.  And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Rich Dubee smile before, but I sure haven’t, so let’s count our blessings and be glad he’s not giving anybody that low-brimmed death-gaze he uses to turn people into pillars of salt.

“Natural sink” is exactly what Dubee likes about 24-year-old righty David Herndon this spring.  Terrific news, of course, but it does leave one seemingly critical question lying out in the open.

Who in the hell is David Herndon?

He’s not a product of the Phillies farm system, hooked into the spotlight because of the mad dash of young talent to other clubs in the past year.  He’s not a grizzled veteran with one last fight in him or a foreign import looking to prove his scouting report was non fiction.  He’s not just looking for an in to be the next guy in the Phanatic suit.

He’s David Herndon, baseball player.  He’s just not from around here.

“I feel like a lost dog,” he explains.

Oh.  Okay.

Herndon’s been spiraling in and out of some minor league clubs out west (Cedar Rapids, Orem, Rancho Cucamonga, and the like), deep in the grasp of the Los Angeles Angels. More or less, he’s on loan to the Phils through his Rule 5 status this spring to see if we can get some use out of him (though when it comes to our bullpen right now, the deeper the better.  I do not feel like walking into the late innings of 2010 without a lot of options in our back pocket,  so when it comes to signing relievers, I say pile ‘um on).  If he’s not signing on the dotted line for the 25-man roster, it’s back to the Angels with him.

But according to Dubee, the guy’s not going to be easy to get rid of.  Sort of like a lost dog–oh, now I get it.

What Dubee’s calling a “very good sinker,” (he’s such a damn wordsmith it brings tears to my eyes) is responsible for making the equipment manager’s job all the more annoying.

“He broke a number of bats,” Dubee went on.  “He also had a better slider than I anticipated and he had good action on his fastball.”

If only it were as simple as “baseball.”  But, like I said, Herndon and his awesome moving pitches might, thanks to the business end of baseball, be back in L.A. by the end of Spring Training.  I’ve given up on trying to fathom some of the ridiculousness of the inner workings of MLB’s offseason.  Herndon agrees with me:

“I don’t understand all of it myself.”

Heh, heh.  I like this guy.  He’s got a heavy sinker, a developing slider, and a shifty fastball.  There may not be a whole lot of room left in the bullpen, but there’s a reason they’re looking at him and giving him compliments.

“DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MIRACULOUS IT IS THAT ALL THIS EQUIPMENT EVEN GOT DOWN HERE?!” screamed an equipment manager while picking up the broken pieces of another bat and sobbing.