Notes: Broxton a strong asset for LA

Dodgers notes: Broxton a strong asset

LOS ANGELES -- While Andre Ethier garners most of the national attention as the Dodgers' top Rookie of the Year candidate, overshadowed is the solid play of reliever Jonathan Broxton. But that happens when you also have players like catcher Russell Martin and starter Chad Billingsley contributing so consistently on a first-place ballclub.

"You know, that's been a pleasant surprise that they've done so well," said manager Grady Little. "There are young players all around the league that are having great seasons. They're going to be fun to watch for a long time. A lot of them are in our division."

Broxton has been quietly shutting down the opposition for a month and a half. The 22-year-old right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA and has allowed just two runs in his last 18 appearances. Also, in that span, Broxton has issued just eight walks while fanning 28 batters, giving him 75 strikeouts on the year against 27 walks.

Broxton added a splitter to his repertoire in May, but doesn't use it enough to credit it with his recent success.

"I just go after guys, mostly with fastballs," he said. "I'm not worrying about hitting corners, just throwing quality pitches. Every now and then, [I throw the splitter], but when it comes time for the slider, I throw the slider."

Broxton has not allowed a home run since July 24, when he surrendered his seventh, but he hasn't stopped going after hitters. Working with veterans in Los Angeles has taught him to pitch with confidence.

"Trust your stuff," he said. "Pitch to your strength and go from there. Even if you make a mistake, they've still got to hit it. I just try to keep the ball down."

Speaking of keeping it down: Ethier's resume hasn't been the only beneficiary of his arrival in Los Angeles. So have his taste buds. Ethier is a Japanese cuisine aficionado and has consumed his share in Little Tokyo, not far from Dodger Stadium.

Teammate Takashi Saito has been introducing Ethier to more exotic menu items than the ramen and sushi that are already staples in his diet.

"Gyu-tongue," said Ethier, when asked for evidence of his courage. Gyu-tongue is cooked and thinly-sliced beef tongue with salt.

"I don't think my wife was a fan when she found out what it was. I'm a fan."

Rotation plans: No word yet on whether Billingsley will make his next start after being scratched from Sunday's contest with a strained left oblique muscle, but Little plans to keep the rotation on track while he makes some adjustments.

"We do know that our three main people -- [Derek] Lowe, [Greg] Maddux and [Brad] Penny -- are going to start as close to their regular turns in the rotation as possible," he said. "Right now, with Billingsley out of the rotation for a week or so, [Mark] Hendrickson is one of our starters, and he'll remain in that role until we make a change."

Little said he didn't expect Aaron Sele, Sunday's replacement for Billingsley, to throw more than 80-85 pitches in a start that could determine who would take the ball should the rookie be unable to field the call.

"It's quite possible that [Hong-Chih Kuo] will," said Little. "He was very impressive in his outing last night, and he's been pitching very well since he started starting in [Triple-A Las Vegas]. It wouldn't surprise me if we don't stick him in there for a time or two by the end of the season."

Off-days: Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra and Martin all rested Sunday, giving Julio Lugo, James Loney and Toby Hall a chance to start.

Little is concerned about keeping his club healthy, but isn't reluctant to trust the players that have recently joined his roster.

"We feel we've got some adequate depth on our club right now to give these guys a break," said Little. "I mean, we've got Julio Lugo, who's been outstanding ever since he joined our club. We've got James Loney, who led the [Pacific Coast League] in hitting by about 50 points. He can help us at first base. Lugo can help us at second and third, short if we need him.

"But we're nearly to a point right now where we hate taking Rafael [Furcal] out for a minute. He's been so valuable to us."

Twenty years ago today: Maddux, as a member of the Cubs, made his Major League debut as a pinch-runner, entering the 17th inning of an Astros game that had been suspended after 14 innings the night before at Wrigley Field. Maddux remained in the game and took the loss after allowing an 18th-inning solo homer to Houston's Billy Hatcher.

"Nolan Ryan and Jamie Moyer were the starting pitchers," recalls Maddux. "Yeah, we got darked out. Good time."

How has the game changed in the 20 years Maddux has been pitching?

"They've got lights now."

Forty-nine years ago today: The Dodgers played their last game at Roosevelt Field in New Jersey, where Jackie Robinson made his Minor League debut 11 years earlier. Brooklyn starter Don Drysdale pitched all 12 innings, but took the loss after allowing an RBI sacrifice fly to the Phillies' Willie Jones. The Dodgers played seven games at Roosevelt in 1956 and seven more in '57.

Coming up: Maddux (12-11, 3.48) opposes Dave Bush (9-10, 4.70) in Milwaukee on Monday at 11:05 a.m. PT.

Jared Ravich is a technical producer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.