Jonathan Broxton still Dodgers closer
MIAMI -- Jonathan Broxton was told by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday that he is still the team's closer despite widespread media reports that the team had decided to go with a closer-by-committee approach in the wake of Broxton's blown save on Monday night against the Florida Marlins.
Mattingly saw one of those media reports, on the MLB Network, while working out on Tuesday morning and immediately decided to meet with Broxton to reassure him that the job was still his. That closed-door meeting, which also included pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, took place in the visiting clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before the Dodgers lost, 4-2, to the Marlins. The Marlins scored three runs off Broxton after two were out and nobody was on base in the ninth inning on Monday night to beat the Dodgers 5-4.
"I'm the closer right now, so I just have to go out there and continue to throw," Broxton said after the meeting. "I just have to turn the page. That is the big thing about closing or doing anything, setting up, relieving. You have to turn the page. ... [Mattingly] said he liked what he has been seeing and that I'm throwing the ball good. I just have to get back to that attack mode, especially with two outs."
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Those media reports stemmed from comments Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made during his weekly radio interview on Tuesday morning with KABC's Peter Tilden. Although Colletti never used the term "closer-by-committee," he did mention the names of at least two other pitchers -- Hong-Chih Kuo, who is on the disabled list but expected to return as early as Friday, and Vicente Padilla, who came off the disabled list on Friday and has since had one strong outing and one shaky one -- as possible closer candidates.
"I can't help but be concerned," Colletti said when Tilden asked about Broxton. "I'm one of those people who are pretty much concerned about everything anyway. I am concerned about him. Hopefully, we will get Kuo back Friday, and Padilla has been back for a couple of games. Hopefully, we can give Donnie three choices or so at the end of a game and let him make up his mind by matchup or whatever until Broxton can get his confidence back and get settled."
Contacted by ESPNLosAngeles.com, Colletti downplayed the implications of what he had told Tilden earlier in the day.
"I just said when we get Kuo back and Padilla back to 100 percent, it's going to give Donnie some options, depending upon matchups and the previous day's usage, things like that," Colletti said. "But that doesn't mean Broxton isn't the closer."
Both Mattingly and Honeycutt said Broxton wasn't available to close on Tuesday night against the Marlins, but only because he had pitched each of the previous two games.
"We haven't asked anybody to go three days in a row yet [this year]," Honeycutt said.
Mattingly said Colletti's actual comments to Tilden weren't that different from the bullpen philosophy the team has been employing all season.
"I talked to Ned about it," Mattingly said. "To me, he was saying it depends on availability and depends on matchups, things like that, and it has always been that way. Brox isn't available tonight. ... I think anytime guys are getting information, I don't want them to worry about what is going on. ... I don't want guys to ever go off what they hear reported. They need to hear it from me. I need to let them know exactly what is going on and what we're thinking and what we're doing."
Mattingly said definitively that Broxton remains the team's closer on those nights when he is available to pitch. He also reiterated that his only concern after Broxton's first blown save of the season on Monday night -- the tying run scored on an error by shortstop Jamey Carroll and the winning run came home on a misjudged fly ball by rookie left fielder Jerry Sands -- was the two-out, none-on walk to Emilio Bonifacio with one of the league's most dangerous hitters, Hanley Ramirez, on deck to pinch hit.
Ramirez singled to right field, with Bonifacio taking third.
"I know he wasn't trying to walk him, but Bonifacio, to me, we have to attack him," Mattingly said. "You don't want to get to [Ramirez]. He is almost like [St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert] Pujols. You have to go after the guy in front of him, because you don't want him coming to the plate."
Broxton denied Colletti's contention he is suffering from a lack of confidence.
"I feel fine," he said. "I'm getting really close to that feeling where you don't have to worry about anything. Just, here it is, that attack mode. I'm nibbling a little bit now. Last year, the first half, I don't know exactly what the numbers were, but I guarantee you I was ahead in the count most of the time. Right now, I'm falling behind in a lot of counts, and that makes it a lot tougher."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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