GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Is Darren Dreifort, who hasn't pitched since 2004, considering a comeback?
Dreifort visited Camelback Ranch this week as a guest instructor on the Minor League side. And while he was there in uniform, he threw a bullpen session and batting practice and hinted at a return to the mound for real. He'll be 39 in May.
Dreifort retired prematurely at age 32 -- last pitching in a game in 2004 -- because of a rare condition that cursed him with weak connective tissue and led to a staggering 12 operations on his elbow, hip, knee, shoulder and ankle.
He downplayed this week's throwing off a mound, saying he's done it in the past at the Dodgers' development camp. But he also said he misses the game so much that he can't stand watching it and would rather play it.
"Who wouldn't [want to] play catch?" he said. "Some days I feel like I could still play. Some days I feel like I got run over by a truck. My hip and knee still give me trouble."
Dreifort -- who signed a five-year, $55 million contract in 2001 but pitched only three of those years during which he won only nine games -- said since retirement he's been a full-time dad to his three kids -- ages 5, 7 and 9. "The best kids in the world," he said.
He said he's enjoyed coaching them, but wasn't sure if he was cut out to be a coach at the professional level.
"With all of the travel and meetings, I wouldn't want to be away from my kids that much," Dreifort said. "It's been interesting being on this side of the fence this week. I'm just trying to stay out of the way and take it all in, help out if anybody wants it."
In addition to the connective tissue flaw, Dreifort was told by Dr. Marc Philippon -- the Vail, Colo., surgeon who did two of his hip labrum surgeries -- that a deformity in his femur not only led to his hip problems, but limited his ability to rotate properly. That might have set in motion the elbow and knee injuries.
However, Dreifort said he wasn't bitter that his body deserted him.
"I figured maybe it was supposed to end," he said. "I got divorced and needed to be home to be with my kids. I haven't regretted that at all."