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Originally published Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM


M's Farm Report | Johnny DuRocher deals with elbow strain, stays positive

After a great start to his second year as a professional baseball pitcher, Johnny DuRocher started to feel occasional pain in his elbow...

Seattle Times staff

Thumbs up

Jose Fuentes, C, short-season A Pulaski. Leading Appalachian League with a .460 batting average (40 of 87).

Thumbs down

Doug Fister, RHP, AA West Tenn. Is 0-9 over his past 10 starts with a 7.59 ERA to fall to 5-12 for the season.

Five to watch

1. Carlos Triunfel, SS, A High Desert. Hitting .300 (12 of 40) over past 10 games to raise average to .253.

2. Phillippe Aumont, RHP, A Wisconsin. Last year's first-round draft pick hasn't pitched since June 9 (elbow).

3. Michael Saunders, OF, AAA Tacoma. Is 1 for 10 in two games since returning from a tweaked hamstring.

4. Wladimir Balentien, OF, AAA Tacoma. Hitting .400 (16 of 40) with seven HRs, 15 RBI over past 10 games.

5. Greg Halman, OF, AA West Tenn. Was 5 for 5 on Wednesday, with a homer and four RBI.

After a great start to his second year as a professional baseball pitcher, Johnny DuRocher started to feel occasional pain in his elbow.

Then after an early July outing, "it swelled up badly," DuRocher said. He was put on the disabled list and sent to Arizona for rehabilitation.

Greg Hunter, the Mariners' director of player development, said the injury is an elbow strain and the organization is hopeful DuRocher can return this season. DuRocher will be evaluated further this week.

A setback no doubt, but the former University of Washington quarterback has proved he can battle back from much greater ordeals.

It has been less than two years since DuRocher was diagnosed with a brain tumor after suffering a concussion in a UW football game.

After brain surgery in November 2006, DuRocher changed sports and joined the Huskies' baseball team in the spring. He pitched in just six innings for UW, but the former Bethel High of Spanaway athlete showed enough for the Mariners to draft him in the 34th round.

After pitching in the Arizona League last summer in Peoria, DuRocher was promoted to Class A Wisconsin late in the season, where he pitched in just one inning.

He allowed seven runs in that inning for a 63.00 earned-run average.

"That ate at me all offseason," DuRocher said. "I knew I could pitch at that level. I was looking forward to getting another chance."

DuRocher, who said he feels no aftereffects from the brain surgery, returned to Arizona in the offseason, working on his pitching mechanics.

The changes showed immediately this season, when he opened the season with 5-2/3 perfect innings in Everett over two outings, earning a save.

Everett manager Jose Moreno had worked with DuRocher in Arizona last summer and saw a huge difference in the 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander

"I could tell the difference in his mechanics, with his release point," Moreno said. "He was outstanding. He had great tempo and makeup. I think he has a good chance. I hope the best for him."

DuRocher got promoted to Wisconsin as soon as Everett completed its opening trip. The promotion happened so quickly that his family didn't get a chance to see him pitch in Everett.

But DuRocher was happy for another chance at Wisconsin, and has allowed just one earned run in 5-1/3 innings.

"I've been happy overall, but I wasn't real happy with some of the walks [three total] at Wisconsin," DuRocher said. "I do feel like the work I did in the offseason has helped."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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