ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Jonathan Broxton rarely smiles and often mumbles when speaking to reporters. That wasn't the case Saturday.
The Dodgers' soft-spoken closer was beaming as he recounted how he returned to Georgia on Thursday for the birth of his first child, Jonathan Brooks.
Better than saving a game?
"Yeah, yeah," said Broxton, who missed the Dodgers' series opener in Texas on Friday.
Broxton said his wife, Elizabeth, called him Thursday at 3:30 a.m. to tell him that her water had broken.
Broxton boarded an early-morning flight out of Los Angeles. When he landed in Atlanta that afternoon, his wife was well into her labor.
Problem: He was a three-hour drive away from their hometown of Waynesboro.
When Broxton was halfway there, his wife was dilated 8 centimeters.
"She only had two more to go," Broxton said. "I was like, 'There's no way I'm making it.' "
However, the doctors did what they could to postpone the birth, and Broxton was by Elizabeth's side at around 5:45 p.m.
Jonathan Brooks was born at 6:11 p.m.
"Perfect," the new father said.
Broxton was still smiling Saturday.
"It was two days ago," he said. "You should have that glow for a while."
The birth happened earlier than expected. Elizabeth had scheduled a cesarean birth for July 2.
Told he wouldn't have to miss Manny Ramirez's anticipated return to the Dodgers on July 3, Broxton smiled and said, "Yeah, exactly."
Broxton said he would return to Georgia today after the Dodgers end their series in Texas and spend the off-day Monday with his wife and son. He said he would rejoin the club Tuesday, when it opens a three-game series against Oakland.
"Everything's falling into place right now," Broxton said.
Broxton has been dominant in his first season as the Dodgers' full-time closer. He saved his 15th game Saturday and lowered his earned-run average to 1.45. He's also 6-0.
Broxton, who was eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, will earn $1.825 million this season.
Hiroki Kuroda said that in Japan, it's rare for players to take days off for the birth of a child.
Kuroda said he was with his wife on the day she gave birth to their second daughter but had to leave the hospital before she was born because he had to start that day for the Hiroshima Carp. Kuroda said it's customary for players to play even if they lost a parent.
Manager Joe Torre said it was that way in the United States not so long ago, recalling how he intended to play on the day his mother died. The game was rained out.
Ramirez is scheduled to return in San Diego on July 3 and the Dodgers are inviting fans to join him there.
The Dodgers already had organized a fan trip to San Diego for that series. In an e-mail last week, the team encouraged fans to sign up for the trip to see "Manny's first game back."
Dodgers President Dennis Mannion said the team had not decided whether to bring back the "Mannywood" seats in left field, a promotion halted when Ramirez was suspended for violating baseball's drug policy. However, Mannion said, the Dodgers will not exclude Ramirez from their marketing campaigns.
"When he is playing, we will market him," Mannion said.
Staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
When: Noon PDT.
Where: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
On the air: TV: Ch. 9. Radio: 790, 930.
Pitchers: Chad Billingsley vs. Derek Holland.
Update: Billingsley once again had trouble managing his pitch count in his last start. He threw 117 pitches and pitched a season-low 5 2/3 innings but still found a way to beat San Diego. Billingsley was charged with three runs and eight hits. Holland, a 22-year-old rookie, will be making his fourth major league start. He will be pitching on seven days' rest. The last time he pitched, at Boston, he was pounded for four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. Holland hasn't pitched well at Rangers Ballpark. In five games there, including one start, he is 1-2 with a 9.49 earned-run average.
-- Dylan Hernandez