With Saito sidelined, Dodgers elect to go with Broxton
Saito, 16-for-16 in save conversions this season and 26-for-26 dating to the end of last season, could not pitch Monday night in Pittsburgh. Manager Grady Little expects him to be sidelined for two to three days "in a best-case scenario."
"Hopefully, Saito won't be out but for a few days, but we don't know yet," Little said.
The Dodgers aren't considering putting Saito on the 15-day disabled list because they expect him to be ready long before that. However, they do plan to make a move Tuesday to add another pitcher.
Jonathan Broxton, who has excelled as a set-up man this season, will be the closer until Saito returns. Broxton is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 28 appearances, and his average of 10.55 strikeouts per nine innings is the sixth best among NL pitchers with at least 25 innings.
"We've got choices, and one of them weighs about 300 pounds," Little said, referring to the 6-foot-4 Broxton.
The Dodgers got a scare Sunday after Saito got the Pirates' Jose Bautista to swing and miss on a high fastball that made the count 2-2 with one out in the ninth. Saito walked off the back of the mound in discomfort. After consulting with a trainer, Saito was pulled and Joe Beimel got the final two outs of the 5-4 Dodgers victory.
Little thinks the hamstring injury might have been worse if Saito had continued to pitch.
"They feel like they caught it quick enough to where there wasn't a lot of damage," Little said.
Saito, 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 23 appearances, is developing into one of the majors' top closers. He has walked only two in 24 innings and has converted 40 of 42 save opportunities in his career, the best rate (95.2 percent) of any closer in major league history through that many games to start a career.
The Dodgers appear to be one of the best-equipped clubs to make up for a missing closer. Chad Billingsley is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA, and Rudy Seanez is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 games dating to April 19, the lowest ERA among Dodgers relievers since then.
"Everybody they bring in you think will be a closer," the Pirates' Adam LaRoche said. "They have four or five guys, and they don't let up. And every one of them can throw it 94-95."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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