Little: Gagne looks good throwing off mound

Updated: February 20, 2006, 2:37 PM ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Grady Little said he liked what he saw from closer Eric Gagne, who threw from the mound on Monday for the second time during spring training.

Eric Gagne
Gagne

Gagne, a Cy Young winner, was sidelined last season after tearing a ligament in his throwing elbow.

Little said Gagne looked good throwing to non-roster invitee Pat Borders in the bullpen on Monday. Whether Gagne will return as the dominant presence he once was, however, is still unclear.

"I was impressed with his velocity," Borders said after practice. "He lived up to the billing that I've heard."

It's obvious how important Gagne is to this year's Dodgers team, Little said.

"He, by himself, is credited with being able to keep the fans in the ballpark in Dodger Stadium until the ninth inning," the manager said. "I think the season standings speak for themselves when he's there and when he's not there. He wasn't there last year and you saw what happened."

Little, in his first year with the Dodgers, added that he was glad to have a closer on board, which changes his style as a manager. He also seemed confident about the club's pitchers as a whole.

One area Little said his pitchers have to work on is the pickoff.

"Last year the numbers on the stolen-base attempts against the ballclub and the success ratio was a little too high for us," Little said. "That's a team play, even though the catcher's going to get all the statistics from that play."

Position players, who reported to Dodgertown on Monday, will join pitchers and catchers on the practice field today.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press