Gagne faces first hitters since surgery

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Dodgers closer had elbow surgery last June.

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne faced hitters Thursday for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery last June and was pleased with the results.

He hopes to be ready for opening day, though he doesn't have a timetable.

"I expected to feel good but I didn't expect to have so much zip on my fastball and movement on my changeup," Gagne said. "I was surprised. It's reassuring. I was under control, staying inside myself and throwing about 80 percent. The ball was going where I wanted it to, which is a big thing."

The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner was limited to 14 games last season due to arm and knee injuries. On June 24, he had surgery to repair a ligament in his elbow.

Pat Borders, who caught Gagne's 20-pitch, four-batter session, said the right-hander mixed fastballs, changeups and sliders. Gagne did not throw a curveball but said there wasn't a specific reason why not.

"I didn't know until after that, that was the first time he'd thrown against live hitters since last year," Borders said. "That being said, it made what he did out there more impressive. His changeup was super."

In Fort Myers, Fla., the Boston Red Sox had their first full-squad workout, with Manny Ramirez the only no-show.

The slugging left fielder previously received permission from the club to report next Wednesday.

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