The two-sport star, a first-round Draft pick of the Dodgers in 1971, is hoping a coaching trial last month during the Dodgers' instructional league leads to another career change. The Dodgers haven't announced their Minor League staff for 2011.
For those who don't remember, Rhoden was in the Dodgers' rotation from 1975 until he was traded to the Pirates in 1979 for Jerry Reuss. He also pitched for the Yankees and Astros, was a two-time All-Star, pitched in two World Series, won 151 games and was a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the hand/eye coordination transferring from hitting a baseball to a golf ball.
"The first year after I retired, in 1990, [Dodgers farm director] Charlie Blaney called and asked if I wanted to get into coaching in the Minor Leagues," said Rhoden. "But after 19 years of playing I needed a break, I thought. In 1991 I went to the Celebrity Golf Tour and I was making a decent living and having fun doing it, and I was full into that and it went strong until the 9-11 attack and the sponsorships dried up. But I always knew that someday I'd get back into baseball because I loved it. And I have something to offer."
Rhoden said he talked to former teammate Charlie Hough, the Dodgers' pitching coach at Class A Inland Empire last year, which led to a conversation with assistant general manager DeJon Watson, which led to his trial at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex. Rhoden wants to add his name to the lengthening list of former Dodgers players who have returned to their roots as field staff.
"I haven't been around the game for a long time, but the game hasn't changed," said Rhoden, who had 10 seasons of double-digit victories in a 15-season Major League career. "The athletes are bigger. They're better athletes. But maybe they don't know how to play the game as good as we did because they get rushed. They just have to learn how to pitch, to throw over the plate and hit the spots with movement.
"I know the Dodgers want to get back to being the Dodgers. When I signed, you were a Dodger, period. You weren't just playing baseball. It was the Dodgers way to play baseball, Branch Rickey. You watch TV and see all these guys who were Dodgers -- Dusty Baker and Ron Washington managing and a lot of guys coaching. There's something to be said for that."
Rhoden said his career change to golf ran its course. He won the American Century Celebrity Classic at Lake Tahoe eight times, played 33 events on the PGA Senior (Champions) Tour, made the cut 29 times and earned $340,000 from 2004-08. His best year was 2006, when he won $142,714. But the Champions roster really is a roster of champions -- for example, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Nick Price and Mark O'Meara.
"It's a very tough tour and I can't play like that anymore," said Rhoden, now 57. "Now is a good time for me to get back into baseball. I know I'm going to like it. I've got stuff to offer. I pitched on great staffs that led the league in ERA. We had Hall of Famers [and] coaches like Red Adams, Ron Perranoski, Roger Craig. If you had the aptitude and kept your mouth shut, you learned something."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.