(l-r : DiNardo, Wire’s Bruce Gilbert)

Perhaps lost in this weekend’s top baseball news —- the demonization of Robbie Cano, the continued Jeckyl & Hyde routine of the New York Mets, C.C. Sabathia being fucked over by the official scorer in Pittsburgh, His (Little) Lordship Of Scrappitude returning to the NL —is the strange case of former Red Sox hurler Lenny DiNardo.

DiNardo, currently toiling for the A’s PCL affiliate Sacramento River Cats, pitched a scoreless first inning last night against Fresno, before allowing a combined 15 earned runs over the next two frames.  “Clearly, manager Todd Steverson and pitching coach Rick Rodriguez believe the 28-year-old DiNardo is mentally strong enough to take this whipping and keep on ticking” writes the Sacramento Bee’s Martin McNeal, ignoring the possiblity that perhaps Steverson actually enjoyed leaving Lenny out there to die (link taken from Baseball Think Factory).

DiNardo mercifully was removed after 81 pitches and received a smattering of applause from fans that recognized he’d hung in as long as he could.

Steverson explained how DiNardo wasn’t hit hard early in one of the innings when he “gave up seven or eight runs.” He was serious, too.

The bottom line, though, was DiNardo helped save a bullpen preparing to defend a Triple-A crown this week in the playoffs. David Shafer relieved him and delivered four innings of two-hit, one-walk, scoreless pitching while Bret Prinz and Brad Kilby followed without giving up a hit or a run.

“The bottom line is everyone can’t pitch every day,” Steverson said. “Now, that sign isn’t posted out in front of the stadium.”

Nor is there a sign that indicates the mental strength of a pitcher who can shake off a performance like this one and be depended upon to come back strong in his next outing.

“At this level in the minor leagues,” Steverson said, “you’re not at full capacity every night.”