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06/21/11 10:45 PM ET

Broxton hurls inning at Triple-A to start rehab

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton began his rehab Tuesday, throwing an inning with Triple-A Albuquerque and allowing one run.

The right-hander, who has missed six weeks with a bone bruise in his elbow, started the game for the Isotopes and threw 23 pitches, 12 of them strikes. He allowed a walk and a double, both with two outs, and he struck out two.

On the season for the Dodgers, Broxton has seven saves and a 5.68 ERA in his 12 2/3 innings pitched.

Rookie Javy Guerra has filled the role of the Dodgers' ninth-inning guy recently but has said when Broxton returns he expects him to regain his spot.

Broxton will throw again in Albuquerque Thursday, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was unsure what the plan was after that, saying simply, "We'll go from there."

Mattingly states case for Kershaw as All-Star

LOS ANGELES -- Before Monday's game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made a case for Clayton Kershaw as a National League All-Star. But Kershaw's numbers may not have qualified him just yet.

A two-hit shutout and 11 strikeouts later, Mattingly made his case a little louder Tuesday.

"You could match him up with anybody," Mattingly said. "Anybody, anywhere. It doesn't matter which league, and it doesn't matter what game. His stuff is gonna play. If you locate on both sides of the plate, change speeds, got different pitches, you have a real good chance of being successful."

  • 131 wins
  • 121 wins

Kershaw's gem Monday was the latest in what has become a very impressive season for the 23-year-old lefty. He is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA, and he entered Tuesday as the Major League leader with 117 strikeouts. Recently, his changeup has become a consistent out pitch against right-handed hitters.

Adding that to his repertoire, Mattingly said, represents one of the most important aspects of Kershaw's game: He's able to adjust.

"If you don't take steps forward, you're not gonna be any different a year from now, if you don't get any better," Mattingly said. "Guys' stuff only lasts so long, where they can overpower people, and basically get away with it and be competitive."

Mattingly said he hadn't thought about calling NL manager Bruce Bochy to lobby for Kershaw, but if Bochy were to ask, Mattingly's answer would be a definitive yes.

Shoulder injury raises concern for Garland

LOS ANGELES -- Injured Dodgers starter Jon Garland threw for the first time Tuesday after being placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder.

That wasn't necessarily good news, however, as Garland said he was still unsure when he'd return and admitted to wondering if his season and possibly career could be over.

"That's the natural tendency," Garland said. "It's my livelihood. I've depended on my arm for quite a long time and the first thought is, 'Is this it?' I just have to stay positive and hope I get back."

Garland has been out since June 2, and 22-year-old flamethrower Rubby De La Rosa has taken his place in the rotation. Garland, who is 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA this season, said there was nothing severe that happened to his shoulder, but rather it is the result of wear of 12 seasons in the Major Leagues.

"The inflammation kept building," he said. "It's been there, probably my whole career. The wear and tear over the years, it get to the point where the body tries to compensate, and with everything else, it's taken its toll. I had never had a severe injury. But with every throw, every pitch I was feeling something. The last few outings, it wasn't fun for me."

Before batting practice Tuesday, Garland had a catch in the outfield, and he called it quits relatively quickly.

Manager Don Mattingly said it wasn't necessarily a positive step in his recovery -- just a step.

"He's still having some soreness with the work that he's doing," Mattingly said. "He's trying to get that out of there before he starts throwing."

Garland recently said surgery is an option, but not one he plans to look into unless he has to.

The hardest part of recovery, he said, is watching from the sideline.

"I come into the parking lot, in the clubhouse and all of a sudden, it's go-time, and I'm unable to help my teammates," Garland said. "Sometimes I stay for the games, but a few times I take off. Honestly, I feel like I'm in the way."

Loney stepping up in fifth spot for Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Hitting fifth for any Major League team offers its share of challenges -- driving runs in, hitting for power and protecting the heart of the order.

Hitting fifth for the Dodgers is made more important simply by the fact that it's directly behind Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, two of the National League's most potent bats.

The most prevalent name on the fifth line of manager Don Mattingly's lineup card this season has been first baseman James Loney.

His production has fluctuated. So, too, has the offense's, and Mattingly sees a possible correlation.

"It's huge," Mattingly said of getting production after Kemp and Ethier. "Five, six, starting that backside, we talk about Matt and basically being able to pitch around him. It's a lot tougher to pitch around him than when five and six are thumping the ball."

Of late, Loney is thumping the ball. He is hitting .383 in his last 14 games and has six hits in his last 11 at-bats. On Monday he had three hits, none of them bloopers or bleeders.

He has raised his average to .266, 34 points higher than where it was at this time last month and the highest it's been all season.

"I've been feeling pretty good," Loney said. "I've been getting good pitches to hit and not missing them."

Mattingly said the impact of a consistent No. 5 hitter is obvious. He summed it up by putting himself in the shoes of an opposing manager.

"I have to deal with Loney and whoever's back there when they're swinging the bats," Mattingly said. "But if they're not swinging the bats, you're like, '[The five hitter] is gonna have to beat me.'"

Barajas takes off protective boot to play catch

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas, who is on the 15-day disabled list, shed his protective boot and played catch Tuesday for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle Saturday night.

"It feels pretty good," Barajas said. "It's still tight and tender in the area, but we're definitely going in the right direction."

Barajas said he had never experienced the pop of a muscle tear until his rolled his ankle chasing a wild pitch in the game against Astros.

"On that play I felt a pop," he said. "I'd never had an ankle injury. You hear that and feel the pain and I thought it was bad, even broken. The swelling and pain, not a good sign. It was a big relief when the X-rays were negative."

He said a day's worth of treatment Monday led to "dramatic progress."

"I played catch and didn't feel it," he said.

Nonetheless, Barajas is realistic regarding his return.

"Being a catcher, squatting will be tough," he said. "That's where the most discomfort will be, trying to get in a catching position. Getting down, moving from side to side, that will be the biggest test. I'm not at that point yet."

AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.