A vote of confidence makes things even better.
When the Dodgers had to decide to put left-hander Ted Lilly to their bullpen late last week, they opted instead to designate the longtime starter for assignment and bank on lefties Howell and Paco Rodriguez to set up closer Kenley Jansen.
“Anytime you get some backing from management and Donnie, it feels good and it’s a reminder to keep driving because the job isn’t done yet,” Howell said. “It’s a nice little pat on the back.”
Howell (2-0, 2.28 earned run average) is limiting opponents to a .214 batting average with just one home run allowed in 43-plus innings with 39 strikeouts.
When he reaches 50 innings, Howell will receive a $50,000 bonus, and could earn up to $300,000 in total bonuses if he gets to 75 innings.
After undergoing shoulder surgery in 2010, Howell said his strength is peaking.
“I’m finally healthy, it’s taken me this long,” Howell said. “Last year was a good year for me, but it was a grind.”