Notes: Gagne resumes throwing

Notes: Gagne resumes throwing

SAN DIEGO -- A little more than three weeks after surgery to remove a nerve near his elbow, Eric Gagne resumed tossing on Saturday.

Actually, Gagne admitted he tossed a little two days earlier just to make sure everything would be OK. And it was.

"I really feel like it's been taken care of. There's nothing left in there, they took it out," Gagne said of the nerve that caused him pain this spring as he attempted to return from last June's surgery to release scar tissue that had entrapped the nerve.

Gagne said he made about 30 to 35 tosses of 40 feet on Saturday. Among witnesses were general manager Ned Colletti and manager Grady Little.

"It felt really good compared to before," Gagne said.

Gagne said he has a numb sensation to the touch on the skin, but, otherwise, the only difference he feels is that the pain is gone. His throwing motion is not impacted.

"It has no effect on throwing," he said. "I have no pain at all. I can tell the irritation is gone."

Gagne said he is confident he will be able to return in three or four weeks, which follows the original timetable suggested by doctors.

"I won't need a full Spring Training," he said. "My arm still feels good. My shoulder's strong."

Gagne said it's wrong to say he wasn't honest with the club about the way his arm felt in the spring.

"I didn't know if it was pain. I thought it was normal soreness. I thought it was from scar tissue," he said. "Some days, it was good. Everybody thought it was scar tissue. It was almost like a bone chip. It moved around and felt different."

Little said he didn't blame Gagne for the way he handled his comeback.

"With his makeup, he wanted to get back out there so bad for Opening Day," Little said.

The manager reiterated what he's said before: The closer job belongs to Gagne when he returns -- even though Danys Baez has saved seven of the team's 11 wins.

"He's the closer for this ballclub," Little said of Gagne, but he added that there's a strong possibility the role will be shared, initially, when Gagne returns.

The emergency catcher is ...: Jason Repko.

"During the Freeway Series [March 31-April 2 against the Angels], they asked if anyone had any catching experienced, and I hadn't, but I said I was willing, then I never heard about it again," Repko said. "Until [Friday]."

The 14-inning game in Houston on Tuesday night put the emergency catcher back on the Dodgers' radar. In that game, starter Dioner Navarro left for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth inning and Sandy Alomar caught the final seven innings with nobody available to take over if he went down.

So, Repko was asked to catch an occasional bullpen session to get familiar with the job. His debut was on Saturday with Brad Penny on the mound.

"It's just in case something happens," said Repko. "My legs feel fatigued, but it went OK. I felt pretty good. I've never caught a game anywhere. I caught a couple bullpen sessions in the Minor Leagues, and I've warmed up pitchers between innings."

Repko had company during his tryout -- Little caught about five pitches from Penny. Little, 56, was a Minor League catcher for six seasons.

Billingsley update: One day after top pitching prospect Chad Billingsley had a one-hitter through eight innings, Little said it's "going to be hard to ignore a guy having that success for very long."

Billingsley is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA. Little said the club will consider promotions based on merit, but said he wants to be sure the player is ready.

"We want to make sure that once they're up here, they're here to stay," he said.

Presidential visit: Special advisor to the chairman Tom Lasorda and vice chairman Jamie McCourt attended the annual White House Correspondents Dinner as guest of the Los Angeles Times.

Coming up: Derek Lowe (1-1, 3.77 ERA) opposes former Dodgers right-hander Chan Ho Park (1-1, 4.62 ERA) in Sunday's series finale at 1:05 p.m. PT against the Padres at PETCO Park.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.