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Jansen healthy, frustrated with recent results

Closer's reduced spring workload may be culprit; Dodgers add Neal to help overtaxed bullpen
MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- In the wake of two ineffective outings, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen on Tuesday told manager Dave Roberts that he's healthy.

Jansen's blown save Monday night, when he allowed a game-tying three-run homer to Chris Owings with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, led to a 15-inning loss to Arizona and wore out the bullpen. The Dodgers called for reinforcements and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Zach Neal from Triple-A Oklahoma City, placed Josh Fields on paternity leave for the birth of his first child and designated for assignment pitcher Jesus Liranzo.

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PHOENIX -- In the wake of two ineffective outings, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen on Tuesday told manager Dave Roberts that he's healthy.

Jansen's blown save Monday night, when he allowed a game-tying three-run homer to Chris Owings with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, led to a 15-inning loss to Arizona and wore out the bullpen. The Dodgers called for reinforcements and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Zach Neal from Triple-A Oklahoma City, placed Josh Fields on paternity leave for the birth of his first child and designated for assignment pitcher Jesus Liranzo.

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Video: KC@LAD: Neal induces groundout to get the save

"Kenley checked in with me and, as he's known to do, reassured me that he's completely fine physically, mentally, and wants to get back out there tonight," Roberts said. "He's frustrated, moreso with the results for the ballclub. He's a competitor and this bothers him."

In two outings, Jansen has suffered a loss and a blown save, allowing two home runs and issuing back-to-back walks preceding Owings' home run. Last year, in 65 appearances, Jansen was 41 of 42 in save opportunities, allowing five home runs and walking only seven in 68 1/3 innings.

But responding to last year's strenuous and lengthy campaign, management allowed Jansen a reduced workload in a Spring Training during which he also missed three days because of a mild hamstring strain. He opened the season with a velocity drop that ticked upward Monday night.

"We're still trying to do a little bit of a deeper dive into all of this," Roberts said. "His first outing, he was 93-94 [mph] this spring, and we obviously were curtailing the workload, appreciating what he had done the past few years."

Video: Morosi on Jansen's struggles, Donaldson's arm issue

Roberts said the velocity dropped after the hamstring strain and hasn't fully returned, leading some to wonder if Jansen is not generating his normal leg drive. Roberts said he doesn't regret the way Jansen was handled in Spring Training.

"The counter to having him pitch more is the injury or not feeling strong," Roberts said. "I don't think it's a workload thing. We were just trying to make sure we didn't push him too hard in spring, understanding we have a long way to go. If we had it to do over again, we'd do the same thing."

Fields, who pitched single innings Sunday and Monday nights, is expected to rejoin the club Friday. Neal, 29, was signed as a Minor League free agent after being released by Oakland and pitched to a 7.20 ERA in only three Spring Training games, allowing nine hits in five innings.

Neal pitched in the Major Leagues with the A's for parts of the last two seasons and was 2-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 30 appearances, starting six games in 2017.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenley Jansen, Zach Neal