Wolf leaves Phillies to sign with hometown Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Randy Wolf couldn't pass up the opportunity to come home.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Wolf, who spent much of last season recovering from elbow surgery, finalized an $8 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
"I don't know how many times I'll have that option," Wolf said. "I couldn't pass that up. I'm happy with the way things turned out."
Wolf grew up in suburban West Hills and appeared in the Los Angeles City Section championship games at Dodger Stadium for El Camino Real High in 1993-94.
"I'm very happy that Randy's decided to stay home and pitch for the Dodgers," general manager Ned Colletti said during a conference call. "We believe in him as a pitcher, knowing he's a quality left-hander. He went through a tough period for a couple years with his elbow. We're thrilled that somebody with his makeup and his character and his competitiveness will be a part of the Dodgers."
The 30-year-old Wolf will earn $7.5 million next year, and the Dodgers have a $9 million option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. His 2008 salary would become guaranteed if he pitches 180 innings next season.
"In my mind, if I'm healthy, it's going to be a two-year contract," Wolf said. "I could have gone to the highest bidder. To me, going to the highest bidder wasn't the most important thing."
Wolf said his first memory of Dodger Stadium was in 1984, when his cousin played in the Olympics.
"I just remember going to Dodger Stadium with my family," he said. "There's so many collective memories going to Dodger Stadium. I think the first time I step on that mound as a Dodger, there's definitely going to be a whole bunch of emotions going on. It's going to be pretty special."
Wolf, who underwent elbow ligament-replacement surgery in July 2005, came off the disabled list last July 31 and went 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 12 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching 56 2/3 innings.
"There were a couple games last year where I knew I was really back as far as strength and ready to go," he said. "As far as strength and velocity and things like that, I felt better than I had in I don't know how long. My command would be there and then not be there.
"You're not going to just forget how to throw a curveball for a strike. You just have to be patient. It drives me nuts, but everybody says the second year [after surgery] you're going to be great."
Wolf was 69-60 in eight seasons with the Phillies, who selected him in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft out of Pepperdine in nearby Malibu. The Dodgers drafted Wolf out of high school, but he didn't sign, instead deciding to attend Pepperdine.
Wolf won 48 games and pitched at least 200 innings three times from 2000-03, and was an NL All-Star in 2003, when he won a career-high 16 games. But he began feeling elbow pain the following season and was limited to 136 2/3 innings. He made 13 starts in 2005 before undergoing surgery.
Wolf said he had a difficult time deciding to leave the Phillies.
"They were competitive with any offer out there, they were very aggressive," he said. "It was just a matter of the right opportunity. To me, it wasn't about trying to get the most money."
Los Angeles also agreed to terms with Matt J. White on a minor league contract. The 29-year-old left-hander was drafted in the 15th round by the Cleveland Indians in 1998 and also was a member of the Boston, Seattle, Colorado and Washington organizations. He pitched in six big league games in 2003 and one in 2005.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press