CINCINNATI — Jonathan Broxton isn’t a man of few words, he is a man of one or two words. Three words is a compound sentence.
So when the 6-6, 309-pound Broxton, relief pitcher’s version of The Great Wall of China, spoke in complete sentences Wednesday morning, it was window-pane clear that he is a happy man.
After nearly two months on the disabled list with right elbow problems, Broxton was activated and the interview he gave before Wednesday’s game was like a private soliloquy.
“It was a struggle for me for the last seven or eight weeks and it stunk,” said the Cincinnati Reds set-up guy. “But I’m back today and I’m down for the home stretch.”
Broxton was thankful that other members of the bullpen stepped up, filled the gap, but now he knows it is time for him to earn the millions the club is paying him for this year and next.
“The bullpen did a great job of picking up my slack while I was missing, did a great job,” he said. “It’s time for me to come back and help them out. The bullpen has picked up some huge innings, especially with me and Sean Marshall both out. Those are innings they should have had to pick up, but they’ve picked them up and do a great, outstanding job every night.”
Broxton can’t pin-point any pitch or any inning or any game when something went amiss in his elbow. He just knows it began hurting.
“It has been feeling good and I need to take it day-by-day,” he said. “I’m excited to get back out there. I reckon I’ve had a good amount of time in the big leagues, so I’m not super-excited. I mean, I’m excited but it isn’t like I’m a young guy coming back off the DL. All I want is to get back out there and help the team.”
Broxton was 2-2 with a 4.33 earned run average for his 29 appearances before he went down.
Manager Dusty Baker has talked incessantly lately about, “Getting The Big Boys back,” and Broxton is literally and figuratively one of the big boys on the pitching staff.
“We’re excited to have him back, but we won’t throw him right back into the eighth inning,” said Baker. “J.J. Hoover is throwing so good. We were patient with Hoover when at the beginning of the year everybody wanted to hang him. And Manny Parra. Sometimes you have to wait on people.
“So we’ll probably put Broxton in other places until he throws more and more until he can get back to his role in the eighth inning. We’re just glad to have him back.”
Baker’s other set-up/eighth inning guy, Sean Marshall, is still missing, still on the disabled list with a fatigued shoulder. They keep saying he is getting close, but there is no exact date.
“No update on Marshall,” Baker said. “I’d sure like to have another left-hander in the bullpen. I mean, you looe at Pittsburgh and they have two bookend lefties. They can use one now and one later. But with our one (Manny Parra), we have to try to find the most opportune time. We have to use a right-hander whom we think has the ability to get lefties out.”
“You prefer to use your one left-hander later in the game, but sometimes the game situation is immediate earlier and a left-handed situation comes up the next time through the order.”
The Reds do have a second left-hander in the bullpen, but it is closer Aroldis Chapman, a guy Baker does not use at situational points.
“You just hope you have the lead in the eighth and ninth so you have Chapman coming in,” Baker added. “Man, would be nice to have Marshall. Manny Parra has been a savior, another guy people wanted to hang early in the season.”
After a dismal start when his earned run average was in double digits, Parra has spliced a 0.52 ERA over his last 21 appearances, including a career-best 19 straight scoreless appearances. Over his last 16 face-showings he has retired 38 of the 43 batters he faced, striking out 18.
“We didn’t get Parra at the top of his game,” said Baker. “That happens a lot around here. We’ve been fortunate to salvage a lot of careers and put them back on top.”