Dodgers Report: Greg Harrell

Javy Guerra still has closer's job

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
11:31
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The first question, as it should have been, was with Javy Guerra's physical well-being, the Los Angeles Dodgers closer having been nailed on the left side of his jaw by a line drive in the top of the ninth inning. The quick answer, which came after an on-field examination by assistant trainer Greg Harrell, was that he was fine, which is why manager Don Mattingly allowed Guerra to continue pitching with a tenuous, one-run lead.

[+] EnlargeJavy Guerra
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesJavy Guerra was hit on the left side of his jaw by a line drive and ultimately blew a save chance against the Braves.
The eventual, more definitive answer, which came after a battery of postgame tests to rule out a concussion, was also that Guerra was fine. But that came only after an apparently shellshocked Guerra went on to give up three more hits, blow a save for just the second time this season and be tagged with a defeat for the second consecutive evening, the Dodgers losing 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves before 26,345 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

The second question, quite predictably, was whether Guerra will continue to occupy the closer's role at a time when eighth-inning setup man Kenley Jansen, whose stuff, at least in theory, has always been better suited to that role than Guerra's anyway, continues to dominate.

The answer was yes. For now, anyway.

"Javy is the guy," Mattingly said. "Javy has been that guy the whole time. Our ballclub has confidence in Javy. The game will tell us what to do with him. If he gets in trouble there, we will put him in a different spot. But at this point, I'm not going to get into the whole closer thing. Six days ago, or five days ago, it wasn't a question. If you think that after two days I'm all of a sudden going to flip-flop, I'm not."

Guerra, whose jaw was visibly swollen and who admitted he still felt sore, said the pain in his jaw wasn't a factor in the rest of the inning.

"No, absolutely not," he said.

Still, Brian McCann's liner was the second of five consecutive one-out singles by the Braves off Guerra. Although Harrell checked Guerra out and gave Mattingly the OK for Guerra to continue, the fact Guerra later was undergoing tests for a possible concussion would seem to suggest it might have been smart to remove Guerra at that point, even if it was only for precautionary reasons. Besides, when Mattingly ultimately did pull Guerra, the guy he replaced him with was Josh Lindblom, who has been one of the Dodgers' most reliable relievers all season, and Lindblom quickly got out of the jam.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239