Why didn't Fernando Valenzuela fare well as a starting pitcher for the California Angels in 1991?
- u_bin_calledLv 73 weeks agoFavorite Answer
Fernando was dealing with a number of nagging injuries by 1990 after averaging almost 250 innings pitched every year since 1981, but there were other reasons often not discussed.
First, there were long-standing rumors that Valenzuela wasn't really a fresh-faced 16 year old when the Dodgers discovered him in Mexico and that he was likely 2-3 years older (something common with players coming up through the Latin American leagues). If that's the case, Fernando likely had a lot more mileage on his body than his "on the record" numbers indicate.
Second, Fernando was dealing with a drinking problem during his last few seasons with the Dodgers and that year with the Angels (this is one reason he was "banished" to the Mexican leagues and did not play in MLB in 1992).
I remember when the Dodgers released him and reporters cornered him for comments. They talked about how "stunned" he looked and I recall seeing him looking glassy-eyed as if he'd been crying. Years later, Fernando explained that his look was due to the fact he'd been drinking since morning and he was actually almost "too drunk to stand," but the media in those days still protected players from public embarrassment.