Article published Jul 12, 2006
Lawhorn puts bad luck behind him
Darryl Lawhorn's flight out of New Hanover International Airport departed 15 minutes late Tuesday morning.
Delays have become the norm for the former New Hanover High School standout, who was headed to Kansas City to join an independent league baseball team.
He hopes to make his long-awaited professional debut Friday night after recovering from his third significant injury, a stress fracture in a leg that sidelined him for two months and caused the Cincinnati Reds to let him go -- the second major league-affiliated team to release him following injuries.
No one can remember a player of Lawhorn's magnitude having to wait three-plus seasons to begin his career.
John Manuel, Baseball America's co-editor in chief, searched a data base and couldn't come up with a player with a comparable plight.
Howard McCullough, the Arizona Diamondbacks' scout who signed Lawhorn as an 11th-round choice from the 2004 draft, couldn't think of a player whose luck was as bad.
"I can't think of any other cases like his,'' McCullough said. "He's such a good kid with a passion for baseball.''
McCullough said Lawhorn probably missed few games with the Wildcats and stayed healthy for most of three seasons at East Carolina, where he played in 64, 60 and 54 games.
Lawhorn was a first-team, Freshman All-America outfielder and Manuel said he was one of the top five newcomers in the nation in 2002.
He slammed 33 home runs his first two seasons with the Pirates.
He originally broke a bone in a foot while fouling off a pitch in April 2004 and two months later suffered a second fracture in the same foot. The Diamondbacks took him anyway and signed him in January 2005, but Lawhorn re-broke the same foot that spring and Arizona released him. After rehabbing last summer, the Reds signed him over the winter.
"You hate it for any kid, especially one with Darryl's bat potential,'' McCullough said.
Lawhorn came off the disabled list last Friday, but the Reds released him, leaving him only one option -- to prove himself in the Northern League. He will play second base for the Kansas City T-Bones, managed by former big leaguer "Dirty" Al Gallagher.
"It's been a battle and hopefully I'll stay healthy and get picked up at the end of the season by a major league affiliate,'' Lawhorn said.
Lawhorn doesn't seem bitter and called the setbacks bad breaks.
His latest injury happened during a conditioning drill while running bases in extended spring training.
"I was going one way and my leg went the other,'' he said. "It's just bad luck right now. It will eventually turn to good luck.''
Chuck Carree: 343-2262