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Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Don Mattingly against Jonathan Broxton

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Asked before Tuesday night's game whether he would endorse the team re-signing Jonathan Broxton this winter, when the former All-Star closer will be a free agent, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was unusually candid, indicating he couldn't in good conscience recommend bringing Broxton back.

"It's hard to encourage anything at this point,'' Mattingly said. "We don't know anything. Anybody who signs Brox at this point ... they will look at his medical records and look at his past, and it's a risk/reward thing.''

Broxton underwent season-ending, arthroscopic surgery on Monday to remove loose bodies from his right elbow, this after months of attempting to come back from a bone bruise that landed him on the disabled list in early May. And that was after Broxton's struggles from the second half of last season carried over to this season, as he posted a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances.

"It's not really the kind of season you want to be coming off of (with free agency awaiting)," Mattingly acknowledged.

Broxton is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time from the surgery, which should leave him plenty of time to get his arm into shape for the start of spring training. But given his recent track record, it is at least questionable as to whether there will be much of a market for him this winter. It could be that he will have to settle for a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training, where he will have to pitch well enough to make a club.

Given the way the Dodgers bullpen has jelled this season, it also would seem unlikely that there still is a spot for Broxton, especially with rookies Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen having taken over the closer and eighth-inning setup roles, respectively.

Meanwhile, Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda indicated his final start of the season, currently scheduled for Sept. 27 at Arizona, could be in jeopardy if he continues to experience discomfort in his neck. Kuroda's next scheduled start is on Thursday night against the San Francisco Giants.

Kuroda still hopes to make both of his remaining starts.

"That is my intention,'' Kuroda said, with Kenji Nimura interpreting. "I am preparing for my next start. It all depends how I feel after that start.''

Kuroda said after his most recent start, a victory last Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, that although the discomfort in his neck had improved significantly, it still was affecting his mechanics slightly and possibly causing him to fly open. He said Tuesday that he still felt the discomfort during his bullpen session on Sunday.

"But it's not that bad,'' he said. "I can still pitch.''

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.