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Broxton takes tips from Saito

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Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX -- Jonathan Broxton said that while pitching a perfect 11th inning Friday night to earn his first save as the new Dodgers’ closer, he had one thought in his mind.

Don’t rush.

“The big thing is to slow the game down,” Broxton said. “You get in there in the ninth inning and sometimes you try to do too much because you want to get the game over as soon as you can.”

On the day that Manager Joe Torre said Broxton would get most of the opportunities to close games in the absence of Takashi Saito, the hard-throwing 24-year-old forced Chad Tracy to fly out to left and struck out Chris Burke and Miguel Montero.

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The concept of slowing the game down is something that Broxton said was reinforced by conversations with Saito, who could be forced to undergo surgery on his injured elbow.

“Talking to him, I’ve learned so much,” Broxton said, adding that they’ve also frequently discussed grips and pitch selections over the last couple of seasons in the bullpen.

Broxton refuted the notion that he lacked experience as a closer, noting that he filled in briefly for Saito last July. In that week, he converted one save opportunity and blew another.

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Quick recovery

Juan Pierre is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation -- enough that he won’t talk about it.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” Pierre said.

Three weeks ago, Pierre suffered a sprained ligament in his left knee when Angels shortstop Erick Aybar fell on him when he stole second base, putting him on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Though Pierre was expected to need six weeks to recover, Torre said that he could be playing in the “next couple of weeks” with the Dodgers or in the minors on a rehab assignment.

Pierre started jogging over the All-Star break and had a rigorous workout Saturday, sprinting and catching balls on the run in the outfield at Chase Field.

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New role for Park

Chan Ho Park, who is being asked to set up or close in Saito’s absence, admitted that he’d prefer to stay in the rotation.

“Being a reliever is not easy for me,” Park said. “It’s not comfortable. But I’m going to get used to it.”

Park said he had never been a setup man or closer in the majors. The closest he came was closing for South Korea at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Park pitched a scoreless ninth Friday night in a game won by the Dodgers in extra innings.

“There is more pressure, but I enjoy it,” Park said.

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Short hops

Andruw Jones was out of the lineup because of stomach problems that forced him out of Friday night’s game in the fifth inning. “I’ve had to go to the bathroom quite a few times,” Jones said. Jones pinch-hit in the ninth inning and drew a two-out walk. . . . Pinch-hitting specialist Mark Sweeney will be activated in the next day or two, Torre said. Sweeney was eligible to be activated Saturday and Torre said he initially planned on creating a spot for him on the active roster by reducing the number of pitchers from 11 to 12. The move was delayed because the Dodgers had to use seven relievers Friday night. . . . Brad Penny threw a 40-pitch bullpen session in Los Angeles and said he was pain-free, according to Torre. Penny is scheduled to throw on the side again Tuesday. . . . Jason Johnson pitched three innings in relief Friday night but remains on schedule to start Tuesday in Colorado. . . . The Dodgers don’t appear to be interested in Oakland closer Huston Street. . . . Shortstop Chin-lung Hu, who was suffering from blurred vision in his right eye, was activated from the minor league disabled list and was in triple-A Las Vegas’ lineup on Saturday.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com


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