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Gagne unsure what to expect

August 16, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Eric Gagne admits to being nervous when he thinks of what he might hear from the Dodger Stadium crowd if he is called out of the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen this weekend.

A lot has changed for the former Cy Young Award-winning closer in the two years since he parted ways with the Dodgers. He signed with Texas, was traded to Boston and signed with Milwaukee. How he was perceived in Los Angeles -- and everywhere else in the country, for that matter -- was altered when he was named in the Mitchell Report, which identified him as a user of human growth hormone.

"Even though you say you don't care about what people think, that's not true," he said. "I had so many good memories here. I'm expecting for the best, but I'm preparing myself for the worst."

Gagne maintained his refusal to talk about the accuracy of the passages pertaining to him in the Mitchell Report, which cited former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski as saying he mailed two shipments of HGH to Gagne, including one to Dodger Stadium.

Asked why he wouldn't address the report, Gagne replied, "I don't feel like it."

Asked what he would say to the fans of Los Angeles, he said, "I don't say anything. There's nothing I can say. It's in the past, you know? It's been settled. I don't know what else to say."

What he did know was that pitching in Dodger Stadium wouldn't be the way it was during his brilliant stretch as the Dodgers' closer.

"There were days I was really sore, but the fans really helped me," he said. "I was pumped up with adrenaline. You really had to be in the stadium to feel the energy and the electricity."

What he said he remembered most was the ovation he received after he blew a save on July 5, 2004, to end his record consecutive saves streak at 84.

"I've never seen anyone get an ovation for failing," he said.

Failure is something Gagne has had to cope with frequently this season. He lost his job as the Brewers' closer in May and spent a month on the disabled list. Though Gagne hasn't given up any runs in 10 of his first 13 games since being activated, his earned-run average in that span was 6.75.

On the season, he was 4-2 with a 6.90 earned-run average before Friday.

Furcal in town

Rafael Furcal stopped by the ballpark to share the news that his wife had given birth to the couple's second child, a boy. Manager Joe Torre said he hoped Furcal could return next month, even if it's only for "a little taste." Furcal has been rehabilitating his surgically-repaired back in Arizona.

"We're not close enough to get excited yet," Torre said.

More on Manny

The paid attendance at Dodger Stadium has increased by more than 5,000 fans per game since the Dodgers traded for Manny Ramirez.

In Ramirez's first seven games in Los Angeles, the Dodgers drew an average of 50,390 per game, up from the 44,581 they were averaging without him. Four crowds of more than 50,000 fans have watched Ramirez, including sellouts in his first two games with the Dodgers.

Short hops

The Dodgers won't immediately replace sidelined Brad Penny in the rotation, Torre said. Because the Dodgers are off Monday, their four active starters will pitch on normal four days' rest, which will allow them to skip the fifth starter for this cycle.

Torre has said that left-hander Eric Stults, who was recalled Thursday, and 23-year-old James McDonald of triple-A Las Vegas are candidates to take the place of Penny, who was put on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation.


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