Recovering from June elbow surgery, Eric Gagne has spent the winter in relative seclusion, finally emerging this week on the island sands to offer an answer to every Dodger fan's question. Game Over says it's Game On. "I will be ready for the start of the season, no doubt," he said in a phone interview late Thursday. "I feel great. I'm throwing strong. I'm doing more now than during winters when I was healthy." Good thing, because he will take the mound this summer in save situations not only for his Dodger team, but his Dodger career. The club's most popular player is also in one of the most precarious positions. If you didn't think his health and impending free agency didn't land him on the Chavez ledge, then you must agree that Danys Baez has pushed him there. I have several guesses why Ned Colletti traded for Tampa Bay's 41-save relief ace a couple of weeks ago, and none of them are potentially good for Gagne. The first guess: The Dodgers just aren't sure Gagne can return to full-time closing form, even if he is judged to be sound. The second guess: If Gagne is throwing well again, the Dodgers want the flexibility to deal him in July to avoid losing him to free agency. Gagne says the first scenario will never happen. "The job is mine until I lose it, I don't think they want to pay a setup man $10 million," he said. As for the second scenario, Gagne said he can only trust. "I want to play here, but if they don't want me here ? well, I doubt that," Gagne said. "I trust them that the trade was made to make the middle of the bullpen stronger, and that was it."
Gagne Believes He Will Be Ready For Opening Day