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Broxton enjoys his time as closer

September 10, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Jonathan Broxton says he knows that Takashi Saito could be activated this weekend and his days as the Dodgers' closer could be nearing an end.

But spending almost two months as Saito's replacement has reaffirmed Broxton's thought that closing is what he wants to do in the years to come.

"I've been waiting for this for a while," Broxton said. "It's been fun."

Not every moment has been that way.

He has blown two of 15 save opportunities and lost two other games.

Though Broxton says he replays his failures in his mind to figure out what he could've done differently, he does what he can to erase them from his memory by the time he falls to sleep. No game this season has kept him awake at night, he said.

"You've got to get rid of it before you go back to the park," said Broxton, who has a 3.13 earned-run average in the 23 games he has pitched since Saito hurt his elbow July 12.

Broxton, who pitched the ninth inning Tuesday, has avoided the late-season flameout he suffered last season, when he posted a 5.09 ERA and gave up six home runs over the 17 2/3 innings of his last 20 games. The 24-year old right-hander hasn't given up a run in his last seven games, striking out 12 over seven innings and converting three saves. Broxton says he's learning how to better read the signals of his body and that on days he thinks he doesn't have his best stuff, he focuses more on keeping the ball low.

But the Dodgers' coaching staff has tried to minimize his fatigue by using him less than it did last season, when Broxton made 83 appearances. Broxton has appeared in 63 games, putting him on pace to pitch in 70.

Jones, Garciaparra in lineup

Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra started Tuesday, Jones for the first time since Aug. 8 and Garciaparra for the first time since Aug. 29.

Jones played center field, taking the place of a slumping Matt Kemp, who entered Tuesday hitting .172 over his last 17 games.

Manager Joe Torre said any contribution Jones could make would be "a big bonus" and that he wanted to see him play out of curiosity more than anything. Jones said the swelling in his surgically repaired knee had gone down, but that it still felt weak.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play and I'll see what happens," said Jones, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

Garciaparra started at first base, replacing James Loney, who entered Tuesday in a two-for-20 slide. Garciaparra went one for four.

Penny, Saito, Furcal close

A day after Brad Penny threw 30 pitches in a simulated game, Torre said the opening-day starter could be activated today.

Saito will take his final step toward being activated Saturday when he throws 20 to 25 pitches in a simulated game today.

Taking part in the simulated game will be shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been out for four months because of a back injury.

Torre said it was possible that Furcal could be activated next week in Pittsburgh as a part-time player.

Short hops

Hong-Chih Kuo wasn't available out of the bullpen again because of a tired arm. . . . Greg Maddux, who has lost three of his four starts with the Dodgers, will remain in the rotation, according to Torre.


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