Kenley Jansen’s heart arrhythmia has left the Dodgers without a closer. Who will fill the void?
“Beli [Ronald Belisario] has thrown the ball well. Brandon (League) has had success closing games. We’re probably go back and forth between those two,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Former Dodger closer Javy Guerra, who is currently at Triple-A Albuquerque, could also be in the mix once rosters expand Sept. 1. Mattingly said that rest will factor into his decision, meaning League is more likely to pitch the ninth inning if Belisario closed the night before.
League has struggled since he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on July 30, allowing six runs and walking five in nine innings. The veteran right-hander recorded 37 saves last year for the Mariners and nine more this season before losing the closer’s job to Tom Wilhelmsen.
Vin Scully rocked back into his windup on the Dodger Stadium mound, arms high overhead, emulating Christy Mathewson (or Paul Byrd, if you’ve never seen grainy film or photos of Christy Mathewson), ready to unleash a southpaw splitter. Suddenly, Scully stopped mid-delivery.
The 84-year-old broadcaster-turned-hurler walked from the mound to the third-base line, where his grandchildren were lined up in a row. He handed the baseball to the first of his progeny, who handed the ball to the next one, right on down the row until the ball came back to grandpa. Scully, back on flat ground, barely wound up before delivering a 45-foot strike to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly at home plate.
And that’s how Vin Scully’s first ceremonial first pitch of the season got to home plate Thursday night.
“Squeeze the juice out of life before life squeezes the juice out of you,” he said, quoting a famous phrase. “Well, I’m squeezing.”
It’s not every day that the entire Scully clan shows up at the ballpark, but it’s not every day that the first 50,000 fans in attendance get a Vin Scully bobblehead. In fact, it’s never happened before Thursday.
“One of the reasons is the 50th anniversary of the ballpark,” he said. “If they ask me (this year) I’m going to have more problems explaining why I didn’t do it than why I did.”
Scully recently announced that he will return for a 64th season with the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen‘s latest bout with cardiac arrhythmia has the Dodgers scrambling–scrambling to get the 24-year-old right-hander back to the mound and scrambling to put together a ninth-inning committee in the meantime.
Long-term, it seems as if the onus is on Jansen to take better care of himself than he did after being diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia in July of last year.
“We’re going to have to make sure he understands everything he needs to do to take care of himself,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
After last year’s incident, Jansen was ordered to take prescription blood pressure medication and to avoid caffeine. He’s hinted at least once that he neglected the no-caffeine order, however, and it’s possible that stubbornness played a role in Jansen’s relapse.
“With young guys,” Mattingly said, “it’s likeyou tell them what they shouldn’t do, and then they start feeling good and forget about what you shouldn’t do. ‘You should be doing this every day, you should be doing that every day.’ You’re young, you don’t take things as seriously as you probably should.
“That’s why we’ve got to be so serious about it. Everybody involved has to say ’100 percent healthy, not taking any risk.’ Somebody else has to say that.”
Ronald Belisario, who closed out Wednesday night’s game in Colorado, said that he spoke to Jansen yesterday.
“It’s a possibility that he’ll come back,” Belisario said. “He doesn’t know yet.”
Jansen was scheduled to meet with a doctor Wednesday for further evaluations.