Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton is happy with more frequent work
As the Dodgers struggled through the first month of the season, closer Jonathan Broxton had only one save and there were questions about whether he was getting enough work.
But with the Dodgers playing much better, Broxton is busy again. The right-hander had recorded four saves in seven games before the Dodgers’ game against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, and his earned-run average was a stingy 1.32.
“Stats are stats; as long as we’re winning that’s all that matters,” the burly 25-year-old Georgian said. “It doesn’t matter about the saves or ERA, as long as we’re winning I’m happy. We just have to continue to play hard.”
Broxton also discounted the issue of whether he has been getting enough work.
“I don’t feel rusty,” he said. “My arm feels fine and I’m throwing the ball good. But if I’m throwing the ball good and we’re losing then it’s kind of pointless.”
In 2009, Broxton appeared in 73 games and recorded 36 saves while posting a 2.61 ERA.
It was Matt Kemp’s towering home run that lifted the Dodgers over the Padres on Friday night, but it was Kemp’s single to center field earlier in the game that indicated he’s coming out of his slump, Manager Joe Torre said.
“Kemp’s been swing better the last couple of games,” Torre said. “When he got the base hit, hit the ball hard up the middle earlier in the night, that was a good sign. When he’s successful that’s where he has to be.”
Kemp hadn’t hit a home run since April 21, and in the same span he had only two runs batted. Kemp said he needed to make small adjustments to his swing and had worked them out with hitting coach Don Mattingly.
The two “have been working hard in the [batting] cage, trying to figure out my approach and what I need to do,” Kemp said. “My swing got a little long, I got a little impatient, I wasn’t swinging at good pitches. I’m just trying to relax up there and have fun like I always do and play my game.”
Kemp’s home run almost wasn’t. Tony Gwynn Jr. leaped and nearly caught the ball as it cleared the center-field fence. When Gwynn came down, he slammed the fence with his glove in frustration.
“I probably would have went crazy, I would have flipped” if Gwynn had made the catch, Kemp said. “You probably would have seen a side of me you probably had never seen before.”
Asked to describe his Padres teammates, veteran infielder David Eckstein said they’re “playing the game the right way without thinking they’re entitled to something.”
If that sounds like Eckstein himself, the 5-foot-6 former Angel won’t argue. Eckstein, 35, is known for his hustle and work ethic, and the second baseman was batting .328 (21 for 64) over the last 16 games before Saturday.
Eckstein always seems to cause trouble for opposing pitchers, Torre said.
“Eckstein is probably the nicest kid that you love to hate,” Torre said. “He’s an overachiever who never gets tired of working hard.”
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