Dodgers have faith in Penny, Broxton
Starter's shoulder fine after 'pen session; closer keeping job
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brad Penny made it through a bullpen session Sunday with no ill effects from Friday night's first start in seven weeks and is expected to make his next scheduled start Wednesday night against Philadelphia.
"I'm good," said Penny, who allowed the Giants only one hit over five innings in a 6-2 win, but was down about five miles an hour with an average fastball of 88 mph, raising concern that his shoulder was not fully healed.
"I think it's just a matter of him getting comfortable being back on the mound and getting that last inch of extension," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, speaking in pitching code for getting Penny over the psychological hurdle of trusting that he's healthy.
Penny told manager Joe Torre that he had the usual stiffness two days after a start, but not the pain that sent him to the disabled list nearly two months ago.
"He said he felt better than he did Friday night and in his last bullpen," Honeycutt said. "Some of the velocity could be timing, when you throw as hard as he does. But he also has to get the trust back. Subconsciously, any time you come back from an arm injury, you go through that. The other night, his split was probably better than it's been all year and he was able to put the ball where he wanted. He had enough to get guys out."
In other pitching news, Torre said that Hong-Chih Kuo was his likely closer Sunday, but only because Jonathan Broxton had pitched three consecutive days, not because Broxton blew the save in Saturday night's 3-2 loss.
"Broxton's our guy," Torre said of the right-hander, who had converted all seven previous save opportunities since taking over for the injured Takashi Saito. "He's a guy you can trust. Stuff like that happens. It's how you respond and come back."
Torre said he spoke briefly with Broxton after the game.
"I said, 'Are you OK? Yeah, so am I,'" said Torre, his way of reassuring Broxton that his role as closer wasn't changing because of one failure. "We did that with Mariano [Rivera, in New York]. He struggled at times when we gave him the role from [former Dodger John] Wetteland. I looked into his eyes and said, 'You're going to keep getting the ball.'
"I have no reservations with [Broxton's] makeup. He has the equipment to be a closer. If anything, he may go over the top and try to overthrow the ball. Once he trusts his splitter, he could be devastating. He reminds me a little of Don McMahon, a big guy who throws hard and doesn't say much."
Back in Los Angeles, Jason Schmidt was scheduled to have a bullpen session Sunday in a last-ditch effort to return this season from last year's shoulder surgery.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.