Sullivan working his way back into the game

Sullivan working his way back into the game

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cory Sullivan loves baseball more than almost anything, but he walked away from the game last June for the one thing he places above the game.

His daughter.

While in the middle of a divorce while playing for the Phillies' Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley and batting .210, Sullivan told manager Ryne Sandberg that he was going home to spend time with 4½-year-old Riley.

"When I made the decision, I didn't think I'd come back to baseball," said Sullivan, whose game-winning grand slam on Saturday night came as he's battling for a bench role with the Dodgers. "My thirst for the game was never gone. When I left, in the back of my mind, I thought I might not get the chance to return. But going home was an easy decision for me. There are things bigger than baseball."

Sullivan, 32, spent the rest of the summer being Dad.

"We played a lot," he said. "I felt like I should be there for her. It was time well spent. She's doing great."

With peace of mind restored, Sullivan decided to resume his career, accepting a Minor League contract from the Dodgers.

"I just want to show I'm capable and ready," he said. "The Dodgers called early, and I'm happy to be with an organization that has a chance to win the [National League] West."

Sullivan has more than four years of Major League service, but he topped out as a rookie with Colorado, batting .294 in 139 games in 2005 after missing 2004 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was struck with the sophomore jinx in 2006 and it has been a struggle ever since, but by hitting .455 so far, he's on the radar.

"I kind of like him," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's got a good idea at the plate. He knows who he is. I don't know a whole lot about him, but he's shown he knows how to play. I've moved him from left to center to right. When you look at where we're at [with a full outfield], he doesn't really fit in that plan. But he knows what he's doing."