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As Dodgers wind down, Jonathan Broxton can only watch

The injured reliever is 'extremely frustrated,' his agent says, and would like to return to the team. But free agency looms.

September 15, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton in the dugout before a game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton in the dugout before a game against the… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Jonathan Broxton was on the mound for some of the Dodgers' most significant moments in recent years, some of them euphoric, some of them devastating.

But as the Dodgers edged closer Thursday night to their inevitable elimination with a 6-2 defeat by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Broxton was unable to influence the outcome of the game or the direction of his career.

The former All-Star closer hasn't appeared in a game in more than four months because of a bruised elbow and won't pitch again this season. He hasn't granted any interviews in the last few months, declining to talk about his rehabilitation or his impending free agency.

"He's frustrated, extremely frustrated," said Broxton's Florida-based agent, BB Abbott.

Abbott said Broxton is particularly bothered by rumblings that he might not be hurt. If anything, Abbott said, Broxton isn't pitching right now because he tried to rush back from the injury.

Abbott said that in retrospect, Broxton and the Dodgers were probably overly ambitious when he started a minor league rehabilitation assignment in July. Broxton was shut down after pitching in two games. The agent said Broxton felt something in his elbow in the first of his two minor league appearances but didn't say anything.

"He wanted to come back as quickly as he could," Abbott said.

But Abbott said he doesn't blame the Dodgers for his client's condition, noting they have treated him well and paid him handsomely. Broxton is in the second year of a two-year, $11-million contract.

Abbott said he didn't even blame the Dodgers for what many consider to be the turning point of Broxton's career — a 48-pitch appearance against the New York Yankees on June 27, 2010.

Broxton went into that game with a 0.83 earned-run average. His ERA for the remainder of the season was 7.58.

He made only 14 appearances this season, posting a 5.68 ERA.

"Hard throwers, there are only so many bullets in the arm," Abbott said. "I don't think it was any one pitch or any one game. It was his time."

Abbott said he considered it a minor miracle that Broxton pitched into his sixth major league season before experiencing arm trouble.

"The days of Jonathan Broxton throwing 99 and 100 [mph] might be over," Abbott said. "But I think he can reinvent himself. He's still going to be 93-97.

"He's relied on one thing and that's power. … He's going to have to be a chameleon. It might be a power slider or a power cutter. He's going to have to transition."

Abbott said that transformation could happen with the Dodgers.

"We talked about that," Abbott said. "He would absolutely pitch for the Dodgers next season if they make what's a fair offer. He's a creature of habit. He is comfortable there. He likes his teammates. He likes [Manager Don Mattingly] a lot."

Abbott said Broxton wouldn't demand that he immediately be reinstated as the closer, but would ask for the opportunity to compete for the job.

But Abbott said Broxton would test the free-agent market.

Wherever Broxton ends up, he is unlikely to sign a multiyear contract.

"I think Jonathan is prepared to sign a one-year deal and reestablish his value," Abbott said.

Mattingly acknowledged he wouldn't know how to go about deciding whether to bring back Broxton.

"It's really tough with Broxton because we haven't seen him in a long time," Mattingly said. "I don't even know how to answer that, really."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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