Arm feeling good, Broxton thrives as closer

Arm feeling good, Broxton thrives as closer

Arm feeling good, Broxton thrives as closer
KANSAS CITY -- Jonathan Broxton has a tough act to follow, replacing five-year closer Joakim Soria in the Royals' bullpen.

General manager Dayton Moore signed Broxton specifically for a setup role, but his history as an All-Star closer for the Dodgers was a factor, just in case. Sure enough, during Spring Training, Soria underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. Broxton's experience earned him the first shot as the replacement, and in his first seven save opportunities, he's converted six. The last came on Tuesday night, as he preserved a 6-4 win over the Red Sox.

"My arm feels good, I'm going out there and just taking the ball every time they give it to me," Broxton said. "I hate what happened to Jack, but as a team, you're going to have injuries and people that struggle, so you've just got to be able to fill in when you need to. I just thank Dayton for giving me a chance to come here, and I know it's not the role he wanted to put me in right off the get-go. So I'm going out there and giving it everything I have every day."

Broxton's pitches have been lighting up at 95-97 mph on the scoreboard radar readings, so his velocity, following elbow surgery last September, seems to be back.

"Velocity's just a number, you've still got to hit spots and be able to locate pitches," he said. "But my arm feels good, I'm bouncing back fine and they haven't really pushed me yet, so we'll see. I've just been going out there every day and pitching like it's my last."

After Tuesday night's perfect ninth inning, Broxton had a 1.69 ERA in 11 games.

His fellow relievers include Kelvin Herrera and Tim Collins, both 22; Nate Adcock, 24, and Aaron Crow and Vin Mazzaro, both 25. Broxton and Jose Mijares are 27, and Luis Mendoza is 28.

"It's a definitely a very young bullpen, younger than anything I've ever been a part of, but there's so much talent down there," Broxton said. "As soon as they put it together and learn how to pitch and learn the batters and learn how to handle situations, it's going to be very special up here -- especially in the 'pen. The whole team's young and there's always a bright side to it. I know we've haven't started out like we wanted, but we've got a lot more season to go."

The young pitchers used to go to Soria for veteran guidance. Do they consult Broxton these days?

"I hate to give them too much information right off the get-go," Broxton said with a grin. "I make them work a little bit."

Broxton believes there's not only special talent in the bullpen, but throughout the entire Royals roster.

"The whole team, there's not just one area," he said. "If they ever hit it on all cylinders, watch out."