Broxton plays waiting game
Through the countless days of sitting in the bullpen, waiting his turn only to never be called, Jonathan Broxton said he has remained patient.
“You have to,” Broxton said.
The exercise in patience continued Monday, when the Dodgers’ game against the New York Mets at Citi Field was rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday, with the first of two games to be played at 1 p.m. PDT.
Broxton, who saved 36 games last season, has saved only one game in the first three weeks of the season, largely because of the problems of the Dodgers’ middle relievers. His only other chance to record a save came Saturday, when a throwing error and a hit he gave up resulted in a run scoring and a failed four-out save attempt.
The first three of Broxton’s seven appearances came in lopsided wins in which Manager Joe Torre figured he had to get Broxton into a game for the sake of getting him into a game.
“Hopefully, we get it turned around,” Broxton said. “We’ve done well the last couple of games. We just have to go out there and focus on throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys.”
When Broxton has pitched, he has pitched well. He hasn’t been charged with an earned run in seven innings and has given up only three hits.
Broxton points to his increased comfort in being the Dodgers’ closer, a role he performed for a full season for the first time last year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but I’m getting into a better routine. You go out there and know what to expect,” Broxton said. “You know what your body’s going to do. You’re not going to get out there and get all nervous just because it’s the last three outs. It’s just three outs. That’s the mind-set I use.”
He said he is less emotional and more cerebral on the mound than he used to be.
“I’m not just going to rear back and throw everything I have,” he said. “You still have to locate pitches. You can’t get yourself in bad counts and walking a lot of guys. Make them put balls in play to beat you.
“Strike one is what I’m trying to get. If they put it in play, they put it in play. You’ve got eight other guys out there besides you to help you out. If somebody’s down by two or three runs, they need baserunners. So they might be taking a pitch. It’s better to get ahead of them. You’ll put them in defense mode where they have to chase your pitches.”
Hiroki Kuroda, who was scheduled to start Monday, will pitch the first game of the doubleheader Tuesday. His opponent: the Mets’ original Tuesday starter, Johan Santana.
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will start the second game for the Dodgers and face Oliver Perez.
Kuroda is 2-0 with a 2.18 earned-run average. But in three career starts against the Mets, he has given up 15 runs and 23 hits in 101/3 innings.
Asked about his history against the Mets, Kuroda said, “Well, that’s something . . .” and trailed off.
Better not talk about it?
“That might be better,” he said.
Vicente Padilla underwent an MRI exam Monday morning that revealed he had an irritated radial nerve in his right forearm. Padilla, who was put on the disabled list Saturday, will begin taking medication on Tuesday to treat the problem, which is said to be uncommon for a pitcher. The Dodgers don’t have a timetable for his return.
“Compared to the day I pitched, it feels worse,” Padilla said before the MRI results were known. “At least my body was warm when I pitched. The cold weather here doesn’t help.”
Manny Ramirez, who had his strained right calf examined by team physician Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Monday, is said to be feeling better. . . . Jamey Carroll was slated to start Monday, but Torre insisted that Blake DeWitt is the team’s starting second baseman. . . . Former UCLA men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin, now the coach at St. John’s, was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday.