05/24/2003 8:09 PM ET
Notes: Gagne rested and ready
No roster moves planned; big hits expected from Ward
MILWAUKEE -- Eric Gagne said he could have pitched, if needed, Friday night. But he appreciated the night off.
By Abe Winter / Special to MLB.com
It certainly was earned. After all, it's not every year that a closer notches a save in six consecutive games. In fact, when he did it in three straight victories over the Florida Marlins last weekend and three more over the Colorado Rockies last Monday through Wednesday, it marked the first time the feat had been done since San Francisco's Rod Beck did it in 1998.
Manager Jim Tracy made it clear that his closer wouldn't be used in Friday's opening game of the weekend series at Miller Park. True to his word, Tracy kept Gagne in the dugout all nine innings of the 6-4 victory over the Brewers.
"I come to the park ready to pitch every day," said Gagne, who has notched 18 of the team's 19 saves. "You have to be ready.
"But it felt good. I needed it. You've got to take a day off once in a while. It's only May, not September when it really matters."
With Gagne inactive for one game, there certainly was no drop off in the bullpen. Guillermo Mota pitched three innings in picking up starter Odalis Perez, who gave up all four runs by the Brewers in the second inning.
Mota faced only 10 batters in earning his first save after 198 relief appearances. Mota's work came as no surprise to Gagne, who said he always appreciates great pitching.
"I'm not impressed because I expect him to do that every time out," Gagne said of Mota. "So I wasn't surprised. I just expect that from him every time because he's been doing it every time."
Gagne said he doesn't get into counting saves, even though he's had 26 straight conversions -- the last eight in 2002 and the first 18 this year to tie Atlanta's John Smoltz for the Major League lead prior to Saturday night's games.
"I don't really think about that," Gagne said. "They can come in bunches and sometimes you go two weeks without one. As long as we win, that's all I care about."
No changes likely: Don't expect any changes on the team's roster.
"Our team is what it is right now," Tracy said.
That's pretty good, considering it had won eight straight through Friday to climb within 1 1/2 games of NL West leader San Francisco.
The Dodgers have 12 pitchers on their roster and Tracy said that's unlikely to change. In fact, about two-thirds of the 30 Major League teams are carrying 12 and Tracy likes having seven in his bullpen.
"The way games unfold, you ask yourself the question: Which guy is going to help the team more in any given situation
-- is it the sixth guy from a position player's standpoint on the bench or is it the seventh pitcher? That's the question you have to ask yourself, then sort it out."
One problem, though, stems from having your starters pitching so well: Where do you find work for your seven relievers?
"It's a nice (problem) to have," Tracy said, adding that a deep bullpen has paid dividends in the past two years while keeping the team in pennant races.
"You only have two choices," Tracy said. "You either rave about how rested your bullpen is and fall out of the race or you use them and continue to win baseball games, which is what we show up here every day to do, knowing at some point in time it could catch up to you.
"You learn from previous experience."
Quick hits: Tracy believes Daryle Ward, who batted .276 last year for Houston but is hitting only .177 with no home runs in limited duty this season, will provide some big hits for the Dodgers. "Daryle Ward is a very good offensive player who's sorting some things out, but he's a guy who we need to be productive ... and he will be," said Tracy, who started Ward on Saturday night and singled in his first at-bat against right-hander Matt Kinney. ... The manager calls
left-hander Steve Colyer "a work in progress for us -- a nice one." Colyer started the season with the Dodgers before being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was 2-0 with nine saves in 15 appearances. He's only pitched in one game with the Dodgers. ... There is no timetable for the return to action of
left-hander Troy Brohawn (left rotator cuff tendinitis) and catcher Todd Hundley (back), both of whom went on the disabled list this month. They are limited to
exercises with no baseball-related drills in their rehab program. ... Friday's game marked the team's 18th come-from-behind victory in 2003. ...
Second baseman Alex Cora was surprised that he was referred to as Joey Cora in Saturday's edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. "I don't know why, I'm taller than him," Alex said, then smiled. Joey, his older brother, played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with San Diego, Chicago (AL), Seattle and Cleveland. ... The Brewers pitched to
right fielder Shawn Green with first base open and runners at second and third with two out in the third inning Saturday. Green, batting .552 in seven previous games at Miller Park, grounded to second.
Abe Winter is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.