Torre still confident in struggling Broxton
Right-handed closer needs to work on locating his fastball
PHOENIX -- All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton, who has blown three of his past five save opportunities, said he's fine physically after allowing two home runs in a game for the first time in his career on Saturday night.
Manager Joe Torre said he met with Broxton Sunday morning and repeated to reporters his vote of confidence for the right-hander as closer, even with the acquisition of former Orioles closer George Sherrill.
"We talked today. I asked if it was physical and he assured me he's fine," said Torre. "I told him it's OK to tell us if something hurts. He's fine. That being said, the only difference in him the rest of the season and his recent problem is location of his fastball. We had such a big sample of what he did early. If Sherrill wasn't here, it would be asked. I certainly don't want to go away from this kid."
Broxton, whose fastball according to the MLB.com pitch tracker is down about three mph since he developed a sore nerve in his big right toe, said that past injury is no longer bothering him. He also has his right ankle taped, but insists his problems are related to pitch location.
"Everybody goes through it," said Broxton, who has allowed three home runs in his past two innings after allowing two home runs the entire 2008 season. "It's a matter of how long it takes to come out of it. It's a long season and you can't be perfect. My velocity is there. I'm not spotting my fastball like I was early in the season. If you can't throw you're No. 1 pitch where you want to, you fall behind and get into hitter's counts.
"I threw a 1-1 pitch [a 96-mph fastball to Miguel Montero] down and in, right in his bat path. Mainly, that's not the spot where I wanted to throw it."
Broxton, who assumed the role with last year's injury and departure of Takashi Saito, said he hasn't lost confidence in his ability to close out games.
"I keep the same attitude and go out and here it is," he said. "I've just fallen behind a lot more lately and I'm not spotting up pitches like I used to. The first and second pitches of an at-bat are the biggest."
Broxton has 25 saves in 29 opportunities and a 3.25 ERA. He's allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks in his past seven innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.