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Kenley Jansen replaces Javy Guerra as Dodgers closer

Manager Don Mattingly removes Guerra from ninth-inning role after a stretch of five appearances in which he went 0-2 with two blown saves. He promotes Jansen, who has 27 strikeouts in 162/3 innings.

May 07, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt talks to catcher A.J. Ellis and reliever A.J. Ellis during a game last month against the Padres.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt talks to catcher A.J. Ellis and reliever… (Harry How / Getty Images )

On the day the Dodgers played their first home game under new ownership, there were changes beyond the owner's box.

Kenley Jansen was the team's new closer, replacing the slumping Javy Guerra.

Manager Don Mattingly informed Guerra of his decision Monday.

"I said all along I didn't want to do this," Mattingly said. "It's the games making the decision. I don't really have to make it. It's making it for me."

Guerra started this season the way he finished the last, converting seven of his first eight save opportunities and posting a 2.16 earned-run average. But his command deserted him in his last five appearances leading into Monday, as he was 0-2 with two blown saves and a 13.50 ERA in that span.

His most recent blown save came Sunday in the ninth inning of a 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Asked if he hesitated making the switch, Mattingly said, "Not really. Not after yesterday."

Jansen, who was previously in a setup role, went into Monday 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and two saves in 16 appearances. He had 27 strikeouts in 162/3 innings, an average of 14.6 per nine innings. Last season, he averaged a major league-record 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

"I think I've known all along what everybody else knows. Kenley, with the strikeouts, profiles more as that guy," Mattingly said.

Guerra was understanding of the decision.

"Right now, we need to win ballgames," he said. "That's the key."

Guerra said he accepted blame for "five or six" of the Dodgers' losses.

"We really could have been running away with the division," he said. "I can't blame anyone. I'll own up to it."

Still, Guerra admitted he was annoyed when he logged into his Twitter account Sunday and read disparaging remarks from fans. He posted a message on the social networking site that started, "Haters will always hate," and went on to say he still believed in himself.

"It might have been silly for me to say, but, at the same time, I'm still human," Guerra said.

Guerra said he will not change his entrance song at Dodger Stadium, "La Negra" by Mariachi Vargas of Mexico.

"I'm not superstitious," he said. "I'm not getting hit because of my song."

Guerra acknowledged this was one of the more trying times of his career, comparing it to when he returned from reconstructive elbow surgery as a minor leaguer.

"It seems every time I make a bad pitch, it's getting hit," he said. "That's part of the game. The game is very humbling. Last year, I got away with more mistakes maybe."

Jansen downplayed his promotion.

"Whatever's best for the team," he said.

Waiting on Hairston

The Dodgers' medical staff was encouraged enough by Jerry Hairston Jr.'s progress that they didn't place the veteran utilityman on the disabled list Monday. Hairston strained his left hamstring the previous day in Chicago.

"He's a lot better than we thought he would be," Mattingly said. "We're going to bite the bullet with Jerry for a day and see where we're at."

Mattingly said the Dodgers were able to delay a decision on Hairston because Juan Uribe was healthy enough to start at third base. Uribe has had a sore wrist.

Of Hairston, Mattingly said, "We really don't want to DL him if we don't have to."

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