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Dodgers' Kenley Jansen enjoys pressure of closing

DODGERS FYI

The 24-year-old, who was promoted from setup man to closer May 7, thinks the tension in the ninth inning makes it more susceptible to wild shifts in momentum.

June 12, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Five weeks ago, Kenley Jansen was promoted from setup man to closer.

So far, he's liked the change.

"It's a different job, compared to being a seventh- or eighth-inning guy," Jansen said. "There's more tension."

That added tension is what Jansen likes most.

"I like the adrenaline," he said. "I like playing under pressure. It's more fun to play under pressure. That makes the game more fun for me."

Jansen went into Monday with a 1.50 earned-run average as a closer and had converted seven of nine save opportunities since he replaced Javy Guerra as the Dodgers' ninth-inning man May 7.

The tension in the ninth inning, Jansen thinks, makes it more susceptible to wild shifts in momentum. If he's learned anything about dealing with that, it's this: "The most important thing is the first out. If you get that out, it shows the other team they have less hope."

Fail to do that, Jansen said, and the momentum can shift in the opposite direction.

The 24-year-old might be armed with an explosive cut fastball, but he was converted from catcher only three years ago. Significant mechanical problems resulted in a demotion to the minor leagues last season. He faced similar problems again at the start of this season.

He acknowledged he could face more obstacles in the future.

But he said, "I'm not thinking about it. I just have to be positive. I have to trust my stuff."

Jansen is already looking ahead. As the closer on a first-place team, he is used frequently. To avoid wearing down in August and September, Jansen said he is mindful of his diet, runs regularly and performs daily shoulder exercises.

Jansen had appeared in 28 of the Dodgers' 61 games through Sunday, which put him on pace for 74 games. He appeared in 58 games last season, including seven minor league games.

Uribe activated

Third baseman Juan Uribe, who missed nearly a month with wrist problems, was activated from the 15-day disabled list. Rookie utility man Alex Castellanos was sent down to triple-A Albuquerque to clear a spot on the active roster for Uribe.

Uribe went on a three-game rehabilitation assignment to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga over the weekend and was three for 10 with a triple, a home run and three runs batted in.

Uribe reported being pain-free.

"Hopefully, this is behind me and I don't have to be sidelined again because of this," Uribe said. "You never know what can happen, but I think that I'm fine."

Manager Don Mattingly said Uribe will be eased back.

Uribe was out of the lineup Monday, his spot at third base occupied by Elian Herrera. Uribe is expected to start Tuesday and Wednesday. The Dodgers have a day off Thursday.

Short hops

No timetable has been set for Matt Kemp's return, according to Mattingly. Kemp has recently resumed hitting. … Shortstop Jesmuel Valentin, the Dodgers' selection in the supplemental round of the amateur draft, has signed and will report to a minicamp in Arizona. The 51st overall pick, Valentin received a signing bonus of $984,700, in line with what was recommended by the commissioner's office. … The Dodgers' bid for Cuban prospect Jorge Soler was in the mid-to-high $20 millions, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Soler signed with the Chicago Cubs. … Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin was honored in a pregame tribute, which was capped by him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch alongside his son, Jorge, and his grandson, Stefan. Jorge is in his first season as the Dodgers' Spanish-language television broadcaster. Stefan is an infielder in the Dodgers' farm system.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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