After one impressive inning, Kenley Jansen says he’s ready to close

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen made his debut on May 15 after having foot surgery in February.

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen made his debut on May 15 after having foot surgery in February.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Any more dramatic and he would have been MacArthur at the Philippines. Batman returning to Gotham.

Kenley Jansen was supposed to make his first appearance of the season in a non-stressful, comfortable inning.

“It looked pretty comfortable to me,” said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.


Jansen was summoned in to start the eighth inning Friday, the Dodgers clinging to a 6-4 lead over the Rockies. It was his first appearance of the season after undergoing foot surgery just before camp opened.

Safe to say, he looked pretty good. Jansen struck out his first batter, Carlos Gonzalez, but he reached first when catcher Yasmani Grandal was charged with a passed ball. So Jansen just struck out the next three batters.

That made for four strikeouts in one inning – on just 14 pitches, all but one a strike.

“It was an amazing inning,” Jansen said.

So amazing, that after the game Jansen declared himself ready to return to his role as closer.

“Definitely. After that, I think so,” he said. “It felt great. I’m ready now.”

Mattingly said the Dodgers would wait to see how Jansen responds to Friday’s outing before setting his future. Yet there is no doubt a healthy, effective Jansen could have a major impact on the Dodgers bullpen. The Dodgers have gone through their first 35 games of the season without anyone ever stepping up to fill his closer’s role. Four different relievers have earned seven saves in his absence.


Now with Jansen, they get back one of baseball’s best closers, particularly if he pitches anything close to how he did Friday.

“Really impressive,” said left-hander Clayton Kershaw. “Maybe he’s gotten better, I don’t know. Striking out four guys on 14 pitches is really, really impressive. His command was impeccable. He looked like he hadn’t been hurt at all.”

He looked like someone eager to put the hurt on opponents.

“It’s just relief to be back,” Jansen said. “Twelve weeks I had to be very patient, just listen and do everything they want me to do. It was a very rare injury, not a known injury. It felt really great just coming back.”