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Los Angeles Dodgers' Kenley Jansen returns to closer role, notches first save

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen returned to a familiar role for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, getting the last three outs in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Colorado Rockies for his first save of the season.

Jansen anchored the Dodgers' bullpen with 44 saves in 2014 but missed the first six weeks of this season after undergoing foot surgery in February. He made his season debut in the eighth inning of Friday's win against the Rockies, and Sunday was back where he's most comfortable, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth against the 3-4-5 hitters of the Rockies.

“I felt great,” Jansen said. “I was pumped about it and I did my job.”

There was a feeling of comfort throughout the clubhouse as well. The Dodgers were forced to use a patchwork crew of closers as Jansen rehabilitated from the injury. Four pitchers combined for the previous six saves this season, but the bullpen was also tagged for six blown saves before Sunday.

“We needed somebody with experience back there,” said catcher Yasmani Grandal, who drove in the lone run in Sunday’s win. “All these young guys trying to come in and close the game, they’ve done a really good job to this point, [but] it’s very hard for a young guy to come in and close out a game, especially in the big leagues.”

Jansen said he didn’t put much thought into how his foot would react to his return to duty.

“One thing I tell myself is that I’m not going to think about it, because if you’re going to think about your foot, now you might do something wrong with your delivery and now you’re going to cause your arm to get hurt,” he said. “If something’s wrong with [the foot], if it breaks or something like that happens, it happens. I just go out there and don’t pay any attention to it and pitch.”

Jansen said he was ready to resume his closing role Saturday but wasn’t needed in the 7-1 loss. As starter Mike Bolsinger breezed through the first six innings Sunday and Yimi Garcia and Chris Hatcher were perfect in the seventh and eighth innings, Jansen began his routine.

“When the phone rings in the eighth for me to go in the ninth, I just get ready,” he said.

Jansen didn’t have it easy in the ninth, as the first hitter was Carlos Gonzalez, who already homered twice in the series, followed by Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario. He got Gonzalez and Arenado to pop out before striking out Rosario to end the game.

“I have a lot of respect for all those hitters, all three of them have been great, especially [Gonzalez],” Jansen said. “I just tried to go out there and tried to win that battle.”