SURPRISE, Ariz. — Jonathan Broxton isn’t sure his right arm will ever deal another 100 mph fastball.
The longtime closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers and former Burke County star is certain, though, that he won’t be trying to reach triple digits in his first spring training with the Kansas City Royals.
Broxton was once among the most feared closers in baseball, but injuries derailed his career. He didn’t pitch in a game after May 3, the day before he went on the disabled list with bone spurs in his right elbow. Arthroscopic surgery followed in September.
Broxton hopes to rediscover his overpowering style with the Royals, who signed him to an incentive-laden $4 million deal to pitch the eighth inning ahead of closer Joakim Soria.
“I’m just trying to stay healthy. I don’t need any setbacks,” Broxton said. “I’m just going to try to ease into it. There ain’t no sense of going out and trying to throw 95 right now.
“I’ve got a month and a half. I don’t need to be ready for spring training. You don’t see spring training stats on the back of a baseball card. I’ve got to be ready for April 6.”
Broxton is working on a curve ball, a pitch he hasn’t used since the minors, and said he is “trying to get away” from throwing a split-finger fastball, which can be taxing on the elbow.
Roughly 10 teams showed interest in Broxton as a free agent, but he decided to go with the Royals, who haven’t been to the playoffs in nearly three decades. The idea is that by signing a one-year deal and proving he’s back, Broxton could be in line for a big deal next season.
“Kansas City was first,” he said. “I weighed my options and I thought this was the best fit for me, going to a setup role, trying to take some pressure off my elbow and stuff.”
Broxton will be tasked with taking some pressure off Soria, too. The two-time All-Star closer blew a career-worst seven saves in 35 opportunities last year, finishing with a career-high 4.03 ERA. Soria also lost five games and surrendered seven homers, both career highs.