Reporting from Miami
Manager Don Mattingly made it clear Tuesday that Jonathan Broxton was the Dodgers' full-time closer. But when the speculation about Broxton's role resurfaced a day later, Mattingly did little to dispel suspicions that the team would switch to a closer by committee.
Mattingly reiterated that Broxton was still the Dodgers' closer and explained that the right-hander was available only in an emergency situation because he felt "barky." Broxton said his elbow was sore and that he was certain that he was still the Dodgers' ninth-inning man.
"It happens every year," Broxton said. "Couple times. You pick your days to do it. With the off-day tomorrow, it could help tremendously."
But the matter wasn't quite settled.
Mattingly turned evasive — or, perhaps, smart-alecky — when asked whether there was a scenario under which Padilla could close a game for which both he and Broxton are available. The recently activated Padilla pitched a perfect 10th inning Wednesday to record his first save in 11 years.
"Brox is my closer, I told you that," Mattingly said.
So the answer is no?
"What did I say?" Mattingly said. "I said Brox is my closer."
Can you define closer?
"I don't have to define closer," he said. "You know what closer is."
Mattingly muttered, "You're really searching today, aren't you? You're such a pessimist. Unbelievable."
Mattingly was then asked about labels.
"How many times have you seen teams say, 'We're going to close by committee,' and end up with a mess?" Mattingly said. "I've never seen a team say, 'We're closing by committee,' and not be in a mess."
So you're avoiding the use of that terminology because it's a bad omen?
"Quit bugging me," he said.
Mattingly was told his quotes would read like a mess in the newspaper.
"We got big hits all over the place, we got big outs all over the place," Mattingly said. "You come down, you told me yesterday, when we give up four runs we're three and 57 or something. And you're going to write about that?"
(On Wednesday, the Dodgers improved to 2-12 in games in which their opponents scored four runs or more.)
Mattingly was told that he could put the issue to rest by saying Padilla wouldn't close on days Broxton is available.
Mattingly never did.
Bad news for Blake
An infected elbow could sideline Casey Blake for four weeks, Mattingly said he was told by trainer Stan Conte.
Blake woke up early Wednesday with a fever and was taken by Conte to a hospital. Blake's temperature confirmed what the Dodgers had feared, that his left elbow was grossly swollen because it was infected.
"It's one of those situations you can't play around with," Mattingly said.
Blake said he is hoping to avoid a second trip to the disabled list. But if the doctors determine that he has to undergo a surgical procedure to clean his elbow, he could be out for about a month.
Blake was frustrated. He started the season on the disabled list because of back problems.
"I can't even explain it," Blake said. "You kind of scratch your head and are like, 'Really?' You're feeling like you're letting your teammates down."
If Blake is put on the disabled list, Mattingly said the third baseman could be replaced on the active roster by infielder Russ Mitchell, who hit .143 in 15 games as a September call-up last season. Mitchell is hitting .214 for triple-A Albuquerque.