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Jonathan Broxton ready to close

There's no Takashi Saito this season, but at least Broxton got some experience last year.

February 25, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — Jonathan Broxton says he knows that when he comes out of the bullpen this season, there won't be anyone behind him.

At the age of 24, he will head into opening day as the Dodgers' closer.

There isn't anyone behind him on the depth chart either. His half-season in that role last year makes him the only pitcher on the Dodgers' roster with any real closing experience at the major league level.

But Broxton said he doesn't feel pressure.

"You can't put pressure on yourself," he said. "Then you set yourself up for failure. You can't think about that."

Broxton said that he didn't take offense to the Dodgers' exploring other options -- particularly Trevor Hoffman -- after parting ways with Takashi Saito.

Broxton had mixed results taking over for the injured Saito last July, converting 14 of 16 save opportunities and posting a 2.76 earned-run average. He closed out the Dodgers' sweep-sealing victory over the Chicago Cubs in the National League division series, but he also gave up a costly home run to Matt Stairs in Game 4 of the championship series that put them on the brink of being eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt says he wants to see the hard-throwing Broxton "pitch" more this year as opposed to relying on a fastball that can approach 100 mph.

"The main thing for me with Jon is he needs to trust his split-finger a little more," Honeycutt said. "I think he's experienced enough now to know what he wants to do in certain situations."

Broxton will get an early reminder of what it's like to pitch in pressure situations next month with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

"It could help pitching in big games," Broxton said. "It's almost like the Olympics."

Broxton said he went out of his way to be selected for the team, telling his agent, B.B. Abbott, that he wanted him to submit his name for consideration. He said he was encouraged to play in the tournament by off-season hunting partner Chipper Jones, who played in the first WBC and is also represented by Abbott.

"I think it's awesome to go out and play for your country with your country's name across your chest," said Broxton, who will report to Team USA on Sunday.

Schmidt still optimistic

The euphoria of pitching a pain-free, scoreless inning in the Dodgers' intrasquad game Monday had worn off, but Jason Schmidt smiled when asked about how his shoulder felt.

The former All-Star was able to play catch without any problems, which he said was a sign that his surgically repaired shoulder was holding up.

"I feel like I threw about five innings, but I feel fine," Schmidt said.

Job fair

The Dodgers are hosting a job fair at Dodger Stadium this weekend -- and, no, Manny Ramirez isn't expected to be there.

The Dodgers will be looking for fill 500 seasonal positions, including ushers, security guards, and maintenance and food-service workers. The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Applicants can enter the stadium at the Sunset Gate starting at 9:30 a.m.

Short hops

Speaking of Ramirez, a Dodgers' ticket sales representative said in a voice mail he left for a potential season-ticket buyer that the club was on the verge of signing the All-Star outfielder. The recording was posted on the Internet, forcing the Dodgers to deny for the second time in as many days that they were close to signing Ramirez. The sales representative apologized, saying he became overly excited. . . . Russell Martin (Canada), Luis Maza (Venezuela) and Valentino Pascucci (Italy) officially made their countries' WBC rosters. Former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela was named a coach for Mexico and minor league catcher Kenley Jansen earned a place on the Netherlands' roster.


Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.


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