Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton’s pitching is another source of concern
As Hiroki Kuroda stood in the visitors’ clubhouse at Chase Field after Sunday’s game, it was hard to believe what had happened to the Dodgers pitcher the previous night.
Less than 24 hours after a line drive smashed into the right side of his head and sent him to a hospital, Kuroda, dressed in a blue suit and showing little if any swelling, calmly spoke about what initially seemed a life-threatening injury.
“It happened so fast that I didn’t have any time to be scared,” the right-hander said through an interpreter. But after falling to the ground, “I was kind of scared about what was going to happen next.”
So was his wife, Masayo, who was watching the game from their Los Angeles home.
“She thought I died,” Kuroda said.
But Kuroda, who never lost consciousness, said he called her from the ambulance on his way to a hospital, where a CT brain scan came up negative.
Kuroda, 34, spent the night at a hospital for observation but rejoined the Dodgers for their flight to Los Angeles to open a homestand tonight.
“I have a minor headache and when I stand up I feel a little bit dizzy sometimes,” Kuroda said. “They basically told me to rest. I just feel lucky to be alive and [to] go out on the mound next time.”
Asked whether he saw the ball hit by Arizona’s Rusty Ryal, Kuroda said “I really couldn’t see it.”
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said it’s unlikely Kuroda would make his next start, scheduled for Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.
“I really want to go out and pitch but at the same time I don’t want to go out there without being 100%, so it’s Joe’s decision,” Kuroda said.
After a sparkling performance in the early part of the season, which resulted in Jonathan Broxton being selected to the National League All-Star team, the Dodgers closer has struggled in recent weeks.
Broxton, 25, has given up five runs, eight hits and three walks in his last seven innings, and has blown three of five save opportunities. He has 25 saves.
In Saturday’s game against Arizona, the right-hander gave up consecutive home runs in the ninth inning that allowed the Diamondbacks to tie the score before winning it in the 10th inning.
The problem, according to Broxton, is that he’s not locating his fastball as well as before.
“I’m not spotting my fastball like I was early in the season,” he said. “You fall behind in the counts, throw a lot more pitches. I just got to pitch through it.”
Broxton said that an irritated nerve on the big toe of his right foot, which bothered him earlier this summer and kept him from playing in the All-Star game, no longer was an issue.
“You can’t be perfect every time you go out,” Broxton said. “You got to keep your same confidence, same attitude.”
Torre agreed with Broxton’s explanation, saying it was a location problem.
“We called him in this morning and the first thing I asked him was about his physical well-being, and he assured me he’s fine,” Torre said.
The Dodgers acquired left-handed reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles on July 30, but Torre said Sherrill would not assume Broxton’s role as the main closer.
“Am I saying Sherrill won’t be in a position to save some games? No, I’m not saying that,” Torre said.
“But I certainly don’t want to go away from this kid at this point in time.”
VS. ST. LOUIS
Where: Dodger Stadium.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 790, 930.
Probable pitchers: Charlie Haeger vs. Chris Carpenter.
Update: The Dodgers tapped Haeger, a knuckleballer just called up from triple-A Albuquerque, to start the opening game of a seven-game homestand with the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Haeger, who has appeared in only 19 big league games, was 11-6 with a 3.55 earned-run average in 22 starts this year with Albuquerque. Carpenter is 4-0 all-time against the Dodgers, including a win July 27 when the Cardinals won, 6-1, in St. Louis.
-- Jim Peltz