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Gagne is glad to be in Boston

August 07, 2007|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Eric Gagne was at Angel Stadium Monday, admitting that as the trade deadline neared, he allowed himself to wonder what it would be like to call the stadium 30 miles north home again.

He had read the rumors and knew the Dodgers needed pitching.

"It would've been great," Gagne said. "I had a great time over there, 12 great years. It was a lot of fun, but now it's behind us."

Gagne's days with the Dodgers became a slightly more distant memory on July 31, when the former Los Angeles icon was traded by the last-place Texas Rangers to the Boston Red Sox as the centerpiece of a multi-player deal.

Referring to the Dodgers and Red Sox, Gagne said, "It's pretty special to pitch for two great organizations like that."

Gagne said he was glad to be back in Southern California and emphasized that he had no hard feelings toward the Dodgers, who cut ties with him in the winter after two injury-plagued seasons. Only in one moment during his pregame meeting with reporters Monday did Gagne turn sour. That was when the topic of steroids -- and the suspicion that he used them -- was brought up.

"I'm not even going to go there," Gagne said.

To land in Boston, Gagne had to waive his no-trade clause and customary role as closer. He saved 16 games for the Rangers. He saved a major league record 84 in a row from 2002 to '04 with the Dodgers, including 55 in 2003 when he won the Cy Young Award.

With the Red Sox, his job is to set up Jonathan Papelbon. "I'm here to win," Gagne said. "It was either 15 more saves or a World Series. I picked the World Series."

But he conceded that he was still in the process of discovering how to make his adrenal glands respond the way they used to when he burst out of the bullpen gates for the ninth inning.

"I'm trying to put in my mind that I'm closing the eighth inning," he said.

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona doesn't think that will be an issue, saying that the packed houses at Fenway Park should trigger his system.

Gagne gave up runs in his first two outings with the Red Sox, the most recent coming in a win at Seattle, but Francona liked what he saw.

"I saw him in Seattle, he hit 96, he was between 92 and 94 with a changeup and a breaking ball from hell," Francona said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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