Park moves to Dodgers' bullpen
Veteran adds insurance for Broxton in replacing injured Saito
PHOENIX -- Manager Joe Torre on Friday moved Chan Ho Park back to the bullpen, replaced him in the starting rotation with journeyman Jason Johnson and backpedaled a bit on Jonathan Broxton assuming the closer role from the injured Takashi Saito.
"He'll be the guy tonight," Torre said of Broxton before the Dodgers resumed play after the All-Star break with a showdown series against the Diamondbacks. "He'll get most of the opportunities. I don't want to say he's just locked in. I want to keep him healthy. We need to shut him down once in a while, anybody who throws that hard."
Torre stopped short of saying he would close by committee, instead offering that the hard-throwing Broxton -- he's been clocked at 100 mph this year -- might not be resilient enough for day-to-day action, which is why the Dodgers moved Park to the bullpen and replaced him in the rotation by promoting Johnson from Triple-A Las Vegas. Johnson will start Tuesday night in Colorado against the Rockies.
What Torre didn't say about the 24-year-old Broxton is that he's unproven in the ninth inning. He has five career saves but 15 blown save situations.
"Chan Ho may take a more prominent role," Torre said, indicating that Park's experience makes him ideal for Broxton's setup role, if not closer. But Torre said that because Park has been almost exclusively a starter through his career, as well as a long reliever this year, nobody was sure if Park could adjust to pitching one inning day after day.
"We know he can handle the heat," Torre said of Park. "This way I can use him more than once every five or six days. He's so valuable in the bullpen. He'd rather start, but he understands. I'm more concerned with finishing the game than starting it."
Torre said the surprising promotion of Johnson does not mean the Dodgers have lost confidence in 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw, who made eight starts for the Dodgers before being returned to Double-A Jacksonville, where he threw five scoreless innings Thursday night.
"He's still on our radar screen," Torre said of Kershaw.
The timing of the promotion of the 34-year-old Johnson is interesting. He had a July 31 escape clause in his contract if he was not promoted to the Major Leagues. Johnson was 13-5 with an impressive 3.82 ERA for the Pacific Coast League. He was selected to start in the PCL All-Star Game but begged off to be with his family.
Johnson was an innings eater for Baltimore (1999-2003) and Detroit (2004-05), but he was shuffled onto six teams in three organizations in 2006 and followed with an injury-marred 2007 in Japan. His Major League record is 55-98. He pitches with an insulin pump, is a true role model to countless diabetics and a tireless charity worker.
To make room for the purchase of Johnson's contract, the Dodgers needed to open a spot on the 40-man roster and did it by placing Yhency Brazoban on the 60-day disabled list with shoulder problems. Brazoban previously was on the Las Vegas disabled list, so he becomes the 16th disabling injury for the Dodgers this year.
One pitcher who won't be helping the Dodgers anytime soon is Jason Schmidt, who has had his Minor League rehabilitation stint suspended for a second time because of continued shoulder discomfort 13 months after surgery.
Schmidt, whose latest outing Sunday lasted only 2 2/3 innings, said he's frustrated and discouraged because he hasn't seen progress in his latest comeback attempt. He is expected to have several bullpen sessions before a decision is made on resuming the Minor League assignment.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.