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Jury figures to remain out on Jonathan Broxton until he brings the heat [Updated]

April 4, 2011 |  7:23 am

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Let’s accept this right from the start: Early in the season, Jonathan Broxton is going to be one of the most scrutinized Dodgers.

Many are waiting for him to fail, convinced it’s inevitable, so all the better that it should happen quickly and the Dodgers can move on to Plan B, whatever that is.

So the first series of the season was fairly unfulfilling for those still supporting the big boy as well as those eager for his tumble.

Over the weekend, the Dodgers won three of four games against the San Francisco Giants -- excuse me, the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, and Broxton got the save in all three victories.

That’s the good news. The not-so good: He gave up two rocket home runs and struck out only one in 12 plate appearances by the Giants. If ultimately effective, he was still far from dominating. Not completely convincing.

Entering the ninth inning with a 7-4 lead Sunday, Broxton shrugged off the home run he gave up to pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand.

"I had a three-run lead, you go after them," Broxton said. "You try to get threw quick outs."

You’d be more excited if he was at least blowing people away, which he clearly is not. Indeed, according to MLB.com, Broxton never hit 90 mph Sunday.

[Update: MLB.com appears to be posting conflicting information. On its Gameday page it now shows Broxton hitting 96 mph. However, on its play-by-play section posted immediately after the game, it never showed him hitting over 88.1 mph.]

At least, however, he is throwing strikes, having yet to walk a batter.

Manager Don Mattingly, who clearly isn’t going to criticize his players, said he was unconcerned with the two home runs.

"No, he keeps getting them out," Mattingly said. "That’s what we’re looking for."

Likewise, catcher Rod Barajas was giving only positive reviews to the early Broxton.

"His role is to close," he said. "The home runs would be of concern if it was a one-run lead, but he was up three and two runs [Thursday]. It doesn’t matter how you get it done. He’s making these guys swing the bat.

"It’s all about being aggressive. I’d much rather see that [homers], than four straight balls."

Of course, he’s not always going to have a three-run lead. Closers bring the heat. And the heat will be on Broxton until he does, and with some regularity.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jonathan Broxton. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire

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