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Broxton's comeback season worthy of Final Vote

TOR View Full Game Coverage ONTO -- How about a guy who reached the top of his profession, seemed to fade away, then found himself and is roaring toward the peak again?

Voters should embrace a candidate like that and, in the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote, they have one in Royals closer Jonathan Broxton.

Broxton twice was an All-Star with the Dodgers and, in 2010, recorded the save in the National League's 3-1 victory, the senior circuit's first win since 1996.

Now he's notched 20 saves for Kansas City, quite a feat considering no one was certain how he'd do after having elbow surgery last year, and the Royals originally signed him to serve as a set-up man for closer Joakim Soria.

But he's done so well as the replacement for an injured Soria that Royals manager Ned Yost is leading the charge to get votes for Broxton in his competition with four other pitchers for the final AL roster spot. Yost, who'll serve as an AL coach, wants Broxton to join his designated hitter, Billy Butler, on the squad.

To receive the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote presented by Firestone mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Broxton, simply text message A1 to 89269. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010. Standard rates may apply.

Yost has been an everyday voter.

"You can vote numerous times and it doesn't take long," Yost said. "We try to vote [for a] half-hour every day and get as many votes as we can. If we can just get the city behind us, we will have two All-Stars."

The post-All-Star decline for Broxton began April 9, 2011, at San Diego, when he pitched in the completion of a suspended game for the Dodgers and then the regularly-scheduled game, as well.

"I had two saves in one day and it just kind of went downhill from there," Broxton said. "I don't know if it had been building up from the years before or what. There's no rhyme or reason or where you could point your finger where it came from. It's just wear and tear."

Bone spurs caused a nagging problem.

"It popped up and shut me down," Broxton said. "I tried to come back and almost made it back and it flared back up and shut me down for another six weeks and I started to come back again and it didn't feel right in the pen.

"They scheduled another MRI, it was my fourth one last year, and it showed this spur which we knew was there and it showed bone chips."

As it turned out, his 2011 season ended on May 3 and, after all the false starts, he underwent surgery last Sept. 19. The 6-4, 300-pounder could only hope his valuable right elbow was fixed.

Apparently it was. Going into Tuesday night's game at Toronto, Broxton's ERA was 2.05 and he had converted 20 of 23 save opportunities.

Not that he's made all of them look easy. Getting runners on base to create a crisis and then escaping has been his M.O.

"I may get into some trouble but I always get out of it," Broxton said. Like Skip says, I bend but I don't break."

But even Yost must have some heart palpitations, along with Broxton's teammates and all those Royals fans in the stands.

"I think the only person I'm not giving 'em to is myself," Broxton said, laughing.

Indeed, in his own ponderous way, Broxton is cool as ice in hot situations.

"You go out there and it's either gonna work out or it's not," Broxton said. "That's what it boils down to. Keep calm and make your pitches. I've always said, 'You're always one pitch away.' You get in trouble and you've got a guy on first with one out, you're one pitch away from getting out of it. Bases loaded, you're one pitch away -- double play is all you need. That's what I always look at."

Staying calm under pressure is a trait that Broxton, who inherited the closer role from Soria after he underwent elbow ligament replacement before the season, is attempting to spread among his younger bullpen buddies.

"They're so young down there," said Broxton, 28 and in his eighth big league season. "They're kind of like in my shoes when I was coming up and they want that punch-out. Well, it gets taxing after a while."

"2009 was a lot of fun for me and I think I threw like 73 innings and had 114 strikeouts. I was dominating out there, I only gave up like 44 hits all year. So I was out there in an attack mode and once I got to it, I went for the punch-outs.

"But as you get older in your career, the arm's not the same and you get a little wear and tear, so basically you pitch to contact and try to make your pitches and that's what I do on an everyday basis -- try to make one pitch at a time. Don't worry about the one they just hit for a double off the wall. Forget about it, it's over. Make your next pitch, that's all I worry about."

Right now, he's making a pitch for votes, as well.

Kansas City Royals, Jonathan Broxton