Friday, August 13, 2010
Jonathan Broxton out as closer
By Tony Jackson
ATLANTA -- In the span of a month, Jonathan Broxton of the Los Angeles Dodgers has gone from an All-Star closer to a former closer.
Manager Joe Torre said before Friday night's game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field that he is removing Broxton from the role for what he hopes is a temporary basis after Broxton's ninth-inning implosion on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Torre said left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will be his primary closer in the interim, but with Kuo mostly not available on consecutive days because of his history of elbow problems, Octavio Dotel and rookie Kenley Jansen could be used in the role as well.
"I just told Brox we're going to take him out of that role right now," Torre said. "He just needs to go out and have a couple of good outings to get that feeling back. This game gives you enough pressure, and he adds to it. Physically, he is fine. But for right now, we won't use him in save situations."
Broxton declined to speak to reporters after being told of Torre's decision.
Torre said he actually had told Broxton several days ago that he planned on using a committee of closers, depending on the situation, while Broxton tried to correct whatever was causing him to struggle. But after that conversation took place, the Dodgers didn't have another ninth-inning save situation until Thursday, and by the time they got to the ninth inning, Broxton was the only option Torre had left.
Broxton then faced five batters without retiring any of them, walking two and hitting one, and was charged with four runs.
Since the All-Star Game, when he appeared to finally erase his reputation for imploding on the big stage by nailing down the National League's first win in 14 years, Broxton has blown three of his five save chances, blowing leads of four runs on Thursday night against the Phillies and two runs on July 18 at St. Louis. In eight second-half appearances overall, he has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits over eight innings, with 11 walks and a staggering 10.13 ERA.
"We definitely want him to get [the role] back," Torre said. "He was the All-Star closer, and he is the reason the National League will have home-field advantage for the World Series. But this game can beat you up a little bit. You just have to be able to fight back. He is capable of that, and he will do that."
Torre said Broxton was understanding of the decision.
"He is of a mind that he has to earn it back," Torre said. "He certainly isn't going to bury his head in the sand. He isn't that kind of kid. We just need to get him back to where he gets that confidence back."
Because Kuo pitched both Wednesday and Thursday, marking just the second time this season he has been used on consecutive days, Torre said Octavio Dotel would be called upon if a save situation arises Friday night.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.