Chan-Ho Park was a solid starter from 1996-2001 and recorded an 80-54 record with a 3.78 ERA during that span with the Dodgers. Now the 35-year-old, who has spent most of this season in the bullpen, is seeking to return to starting duty.?
?Park, the first South Korean to play in the big leagues, said he would move after the season if he can be a starter on another team rather than remain in a relief role in Los Angeles.?
?"Being a starter is more meaningful to the Korean fans," he told the Los Angeles Times.?
?Prior to the season, Park, who was an opening day starter in 2001, signed a one-year, non-roster contract with Los Angeles, where he began his big league career in 1994.?
?The 15-year veteran spent most of his career as a starter while winning 113 games until last year. In his five starts this year he has worked 25 innings and allowed six runs for a 2.16 ERA. ?
?But after closer Takashi Saito suffered an injury, the Dodgers have used Park as a setup man during the second half of the season.?
?However, Park, who is 4-3 with two saves and a 3.05 ERA in 43 appearances this year, has not complained about his current job, which he called a learning experience. "I'm willing to sacrifice for this team," he said.?
?Park admits fatigue has been a program, and his recent statistics reflect it. In his last three appearances, Park allowed six runs on seven hits over 2.1 innings, while his ERA rose over 3.00 for the first time this season.?
?Worse, starting rotation spots may be scarce for 2009 with Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw plus injured starters Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt.
However, Penny's sore and inflamed right shoulder isn't showing much improvement and he is still only throwing off flat ground. Schmidt's final rehab start was cancelled and he is officially out for the rest of the year.
Don't Give Up on Me
Many have counted Takashi Saito, out since July 12 with a sprained ligament in his right elbow, lost for the season, but Saito might attempt to throw a simulated game next week and said he is optimistic about a 2008 return.
"I'm very confident that I'm going to be back on the mound this season," Saito said through an interpreter.
The Dodgers have been encouraged by Saito's ability to throw fastballs in two bullpen sessions without pain. Saito next will attempt to throw breaking balls off flat ground and then possibly, as soon as next week, a simulated game.
"Until he starts throwing sliders, we're not going to plan on anything," manager Joe Torre said.
The Dodgers have a deep bullpen, particularly after Monday's roster expansion, but have struggled to fill Saito's ninth-inning void. In August, Jonathan Broxton had five saves, one win, three losses and two blown saves.
Saito has 17 saves in 20 chances and a 2.18 ERA in 39 games this season.
"I can see the end of the tunnel," Saito said. "I have to be very cautious but I am very optimistic."
Broxton's Mechanics Adjusted
Jonathan Broxton blew a save in the ninth Aug. 24 in Philadelphia and since then, he's been virtually unhittable, striking out his next eight batters over three appearances before finally giving up a hit in last night's game against the Padres.
His save was his 11th in 13 chances since becoming the closer after the All-Star break.
"He's not trying to overthrow the ball," said Torre. "That's what I see more than anything. He's just letting the ball come out of his hand. He's getting better command, and he's still throwing the thing 96, 97 mph, so I think he's getting better results. Hopefully, he can get into that rhythm."
Broxton blamed a mechanical flaw in which his shoulder was flying open for a tough stretch from Aug. 9-24, over which he compiled a 7.88 ERA in eight appearances, taking three losses and blowing a pair of saves. Broxton worked with recently designated pitcher Tanyon Sturtze to correct the flaw, which has allowed him to stay under control in his past three outings.
Big Brother Watching?
Torre suggested Monday the Jeff Kent-less Dodgers might be a looser, less- stressed group, and perhaps a more successful one. He related a story of his playing days, and how playing with his often-critical older brother, Frank, sometimes caused him stress.
"Maybe the shadow of the big brother is not around," Torre said of Kent's departure. "Maybe it frees them up to do other things. I don't know, but that's what came to mind for me. ...These guys are free spirits, but they have been a little hesitant from time to time."?
Park Wants to Start -- Somewhere
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