Dodgers Mailbag: Broxton's velocity trouble?
Q: Hi Tony. There are reports that Broxton's fastball is topping out in the low 90s this spring. Are you able to verify if this is true and let us know whether this is a concern of yours? Perhaps if this is true, he just isn't throwing at 100% yet? Any reason for concern? Thanks! -- Chris, Santa Monica, Calif.
TJ: Chris, I checked with Stan Conte, the Los Angeles Dodgers' head trainer, and he said there are no medical issues with Jonathan Broxton. Said his fastball has been topping out around 94-95, which I guess is about where he should be at this point in the spring. Stan said velocity is what the medical staff uses to gauge whether Broxton is having any problems with the toe that gave him trouble last year. When it's bothering him, his velocity dips because it affects his mechanics. He normally tops out at about 97, and it doesn't sound as if he's quite there yet. But I think that's fairly standard in spring training. He is going back-to-back Thursday and Friday, so you might see him really blow it out in one of those games.
Q: Tony, Do you think Furcal will run more this season. Let's face it, if he does not utilize his speed, he will just be an overpaid, wild swinging, lead off man with a bad OBP. I would hope he can steal 25-30 bases, and get Kemp some fastballs to hit. He has to at least put the thought in the pitchers head, that he may be stealing. I miss your daily columns, you always had great insight. Glad I found you here. -- Fred, Spring Hill, Fla.
TJ: Hey Fred, great to hear from you. As far as Rafael Furcal running more, I think the fact his OBP fell more than 100 points from 2008 (.439) to 2009 (.335) is one big reason he didn't run more -- you have to be on base to run. Last year, he played 150 games and had 18 steal attempts. The year before, he played in only 36 games because of injuries and had 11 steal attempts, which projects out to close to 50 attempts over a full season. However, even if he does get his OBP back to a respectable level this year, you might not see him run as much as he has in the past because Matt Kemp, who probably will be hitting second most of the time, has blossomed into a terrific hitter. So you have to wonder how often they're going to take the bat out of Kemp's hands so Furcal can run.