Based on his first appearance since returning from the minor leagues, Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso said Saturday he’s confident of again playing a key role in the team’s bullpen — and Manager Joe Torre agreed.
“He was much better,” Torre said after Troncoso gave up no runs and two hits while striking out two batters in 1 2/3 innings Friday night against the Washington Nationals. “I thought the ball came out of his hand [well] and was pretty consistent.”
Troncoso, known for his sinker, made 73 appearances last year in his first full season in the major leagues, tying him for the team lead with closer Jonathan Broxton. Troncoso was used heavily again early this season, appearing in 14 of the Dodgers’ first 20 games.
But the right-hander’s effectiveness waned as the season progressed and he was demoted to triple-A Albuquerque on July 3. Between May 1 and July 2, Troncoso’s earned-run averaged went from 3.21 to 5.15.
Troncoso, 27, said the main problem was that “I was turning my left shoulder a little bit more than normal” in his delivery, making his sinker less consistent.
Despite the time away from his wife and infant daughter, Troncoso said the move to Albuquerque “was necessary and important to go down because it gave me the opportunity to work and fix” the problem. “I have more control,” he said.
Troncoso also again denied suggestions that his frequent work contributed to his setback. “I don’t believe that,” he said. “My arm is brand-new.”
Torre said shortstop Rafael Furcal, sidelined because of back pain, continued to show improvement and “we expect him to be in the lineup on Tuesday” when the Dodgers open a trip in Philadelphia against the Phillies.
“He’s been doing more things in the last two days,” Torre said, adding that “just body language for me tells me that I think we can expect him Tuesday.”
There also was speculation that reliever Ronald Belisario, who has been on the restricted list since July 7 for unspecified personal problems, might rejoin the team Tuesday, although Torre said Saturday that “I’m still waiting to be told” when that might happen.
“He created a hole when he left,” Torre said of Belisario. “We just couldn’t get that bridge to the end of the game. He filled a lot of areas for us. Not only that one-inning guy, but he could give us a couple innings, he could come out of the bullpen in the middle of a jam and get out of it. His stuff is electric when he’s right.”
Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals’ 22-year-old rookie sensation from San Diego State, didn’t pitch against the Dodgers this weekend as planned because of stiffness in his throwing shoulder that sent him to the disabled list.
“I’m disappointed” not to pitch in Southern California “but there’s going to be other opportunities,” the right-hander said after he threw in practice at Dodger Stadium before Saturday’s game.
Torre, though, said with a smile that “I’m not disappointed” Strasburg didn’t face the Dodgers this weekend. “I’m happy the young man is getting better,” he said. “From what I’ve watched on TV he’s pretty dominant.”
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