Ely's energy, quirks recall late Fidrych

Ely's energy, quirks recall late Fidrych

PHOENIX -- John Ely doesn't talk to baseballs or manicure mounds on his hands and knees.

But short of that, he's the closest thing to the late Mark "The Bird" Fidrych that ever wore a Dodgers uniform.

"Ely reminds me of Fidrych a lot," said acting Dodgers bullpen coach Jim Slaton, who played with the unconventional Fidrych in Detroit in 1978 and coached Ely earlier this year at Triple-A Albuquerque.

"I haven't been around John a lot, but he's got that nervous energy and people feed off that. With both of them, there's nothing fake about it. Fidrych was sincere. John isn't to the extent of talking to balls and fixing the mound, but it's refreshing to see and fun to be around. He even looks like 'The Bird' with the long hair."

Ely makes his third career start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night against the D-backs and he's worth watching, and not only when he's pitching. When he takes the field, he hops over the foul line. He'll go through some severe gyrations before his warmup tosses, wind-milling his throwing arm, swiveling at the hips to stretch his torso, walking semi-circles around the mound before toeing the rubber to begin his warmups.

In the dugout, while it's become cool for pitchers to be focused to the point of detached, Ely is a cheerleader, exchanging high-fives and slapping backs.

"I'm a little wacky, but I don't talk to baseballs or anything like that," said Ely. "I'm just an emotional guy. That's the way I've always been. It helps me stay in the game. I'm not going to just sit there."