Gagne faces hitters for first time since June surgery

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Dodgers closer Eric Gagne pitched Thursday to hitters for the first time since elbow surgery in June.

"I expected to feel good but I didn't expect to have so much zip on my fastball and movement on my changeup," Gagne said. "I was surprised. It's reassuring."

The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner was limited to 14 games last season because of arm and knee injuries. On June 24, he had surgery to repair a ligament in his elbow.

Gagne came to spring training determined not to rush his recovery but hoping to be ready for Opening Day. He still doesn't have a timetable.

"I was pleased, especially with the hitters in there," Gagne said. "I was under control, staying inside myself and throwing about 80 percent. The ball was going where I wanted it to, which is a big thing."

Pat Borders, who caught Gagne's 20-pitch, four-batter session, said the right-hander mixed fastballs, changeups and sliders. Gagne did not throw a curveball and said there wasn't a specific reason why he did not.

"I didn't know until after that, that was the first time he'd thrown against live hitters since last year," Borders said. "That being said, it made what he did out there more impressive. His changeup was super."

Gagne plans on throwing again Saturday.