Though not needed, Kuo was good to go

Though not needed, Kuo was good to go

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre watched part of Wednesday night's game in general manager Ned Colletti's press-level suite while serving his suspension and, no, didn't think acting manager Don Mattingly had lost his mind when Hong-Chih Kuo started throwing in the bullpen after pitching two innings the night before.

"We decided before the game to go without [Jonathan] Broxton, and Kuo could go 20 pitches, even though he pitched the night before," said Torre. "We're reluctant to do it, but if push comes to shove, he said he felt great."

Kuo, an All-Star for the first time this year, has had four elbow operations and has been on the disabled list three of Torre's four seasons with the Dodgers. Torre has not used the lefty in back-to-back games this year.

"I'm overprotective," said Torre. "He's lobbying and knocking on the door the last month and a half to pitch more. If you're going to do it, this is the time of the year. Last night we were in a weakened condition. [Pitching coach Rick] Honeycutt asked me before the game. It depends on how many pitches he throws and how many times he warms up."

Kuo was the unneeded closer for Chad Billingsley's shutout because Torre decided not to use Broxton, who followed his 44-pitch blown save Sunday with Tuesday night's rules fiasco in which he was forcibly removed with the bases loaded when Mattingly made two trips to the mound within seconds.

What also happened that night is that Broxton's fastball was clocked consistently around 91 mph, which didn't go unnoticed by Torre.

"I think it's all about what we all go through as players," said Torre. "He may be squeezing the ball a little bit. In St. Louis, he threw a lot of fastballs [in the upper 90s] but in the same place. The velocity was real good, but you can't throw hard enough to throw in the same place. Right now he's forcing it. I don't think it's fatigue."