Plans awry, Dodgers bullpen tries to stay one step ahead of chaos
So much for the best-laid plans of mice and general managers.
When the Dodgers went into spring training, they were confident their rebuilt bullpen would be a 2011 strength. Had it all mapped out.
Maybe they were crossing their fingers on returning Jonathan Broxton as closer, but he was an All-Star coming off a bad half-season. And if he faltered, there was the nearly unhittable Hong-Chih Kuo.
Behind them, the hard-throwing Ronald Belisario. Vicente Padilla would return as the long man. Kenley Jansen was back off his lights-out rookie campaign.
Then there was new addition Matt Guerrier, and even Blake Hawksworth if needed for the middle innings.
Only six weeks into the season, the bullpen is completely upside down. Almost unrecognizable.
Now Padilla is suddenly forced into being the closer, and the bullpen counts on non-roster invitees Mike MacDougal and Lance Cormier, plus perennial prospect Scott Elbert, who left the organization last year because he was stressed. And Hawksworth is battling a groin injury.
The bullpen is all duct tape and bubble gum, as uncertain as they come.
The saddest part is Kuo, who has undergone four elbow operations (including two Tommy Johns) and shown remarkable will in fighting back to his record season last year. Hopefully he overcomes his psychological roadblock and makes it back. He’s still only 29 and deserved more good days.
Bullpens are seldom whole, but the Dodgers’ never will be the one envisioned. They’re like Indiana Jones, making it up as they go along, despite their best-laid plans.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly stands in the dugout during the second inning of the Dodgers' 4-1 loss to the Pirates in a game in Pittsburgh on Monday. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / AP