- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

Eric DuBose’s professional baseball career has been all about second chances and third chances and even fourth chances. It should be no surprise that after a tumultuous 12 months both in his baseball career (elbow surgery last June) and his personal life (a DUI arrest in March), DuBose is pitching extremely well at Class AA Bowie and waiting for another opportunity in Baltimore.

‘Things have been going well after sitting out most of last year,’ DuBose said. ‘I’ve been getting repetitions, seeing batters, getting all of your pitch sequences and pitches back in rhythm. I feel like things are coming together and my arm is getting stronger.’

DuBose was a first-round pick by Oakland in 1997 out of Mississippi State. After finishing the 1998 season 13-7 and making it to Class AA, DuBose appeared to be on the fast track to the big leagues.

He struggled the next two seasons, however, and was put on waivers by the A’s in September 2000 and again two weeks later by Cleveland. Detroit claimed him and then released him the following March. He had labrum surgery to fix his shoulder and missed the entire 2001 season before signing with Baltimore in February 2002.

‘[1998] was the last year that I was healthy,’ DuBose said. ‘1999 and 2000 were just rehab, go pitch a little bit, rehab and go pitch a little bit. Once I had the surgery and these guys gave me a chance, it’s been a lot better.’

DuBose made it to the majors in 2002 as a reliever before returning to starting in 2003. He made 24 starts for the Orioles between 2003 and last year, but his ERA nearly doubled in 2004 before he had three bone chips and two bone spurs removed from his elbow and ended his season.

This season did not start well. He was arrested in Florida during spring training for drunken driving and gave up 14 earned runs in 14 innings in the Grapefruit League. When he didn’t make the club, he went to Class AAA Ottawa but couldn’t pitch in their home games because of the pending DUI case. He would have needed a permit similar to the one Sidney Ponson received to pitch in Toronto earlier this season, so the Orioles moved him to Bowie.

‘I like to think that I have the attitude that not a lot bothers me,’ DuBose said. ‘I don’t let a whole lot get to me. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and take care of the things you can control. I made a mistake, and it’s certainly hurt me and my family, but you can’t dwell on it. You can’t say, ‘Oh, I messed up. Now everything’s going to be over.’ You’ve got to keep going.’

In eight starts with the Baysox, DuBose is 4-4 with an Eastern League-leading 1.88 ERA. He has allowed 47 baserunners in 48 innings while striking out 42 batters.

He could have been called up to pitch Saturday night against Detroit, but the Orioles went with their top prospect, 20-year old Hayden Penn, instead. Still, as Baltimore continues to search for more pitching to augment its dynamic offense, DuBose could be back with the club for the fourth time in as many years. He has reason to believe it might be for good.

‘In the long run it may work out for the best,? DuBose said. ‘I’m not saying I wasn’t ready, but I’m a lot more confident in my stuff now than I [was] in spring training. I’ve had a lot more repetition. Spring training isn’t always long enough to get ready, especially since I hadn’t pitched much in almost a year.

‘It’s the same pitches. I think it’s better pitch sequences, and I’m a little bit more of a pitcher than I was when I was younger. If I knew how to pitch the way I do now and had the stuff I had when I got drafted, I’d have been a lot better a lot faster.’

Nationals farm notes — The injury bug bit Class A Potomac last week. Catcher Erik San Pedro, who had played in just seven games since joining the team after offseason thumb surgery, suffered a broken leg from a collision at home plate Thursday night. In the same game, middle infielder Javy Rodriguez was hit in the helmet with a pitch, which caused a cut in his face that needed 20 stitches to repair.

Potomac first baseman Josh Whitesell also missed a few games last week with what Washington director of player development Adam Wogan called shoulder soreness. Whitesell leads the team in batting average (.312) and is tied with his roommate, Kory Casto, for the team lead in home runs with seven. …

Zach Day will make his first start for Class AAA New Orleans tonight against Omaha. …

Class AA Harrisburg made an interesting pickup for its struggling offense this week when former first-round pick Dee Brown was added to the roster. Brown, the 14th overall selection in the 1996 draft, logged 263 games with Kansas City before signing with the Yankees this offseason. He had appeared in 13 games for Class AA Trenton before being released and picked up by the Nationals. …

The 2005 draft is one week away. Washington owns the fourth pick overall and doesn’t pick again until the fourth round. The Nationals had to surrender their second- and third-round picks as compensation for signing Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman.

Multiple published reports have linked Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the Nationals in the first round. Other top position players in the draft include high schoolers Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin, Nebraska third baseman Alex Gordon and Long Beach State shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The top pitchers are starters Mike Pelfrey of Wichita State and Luke Hochevar of Tennessee and St. John’s closer Craig Hansen.

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