LOS ANGELES -- Though Octavio Dotel has had his share of issues through the Pirates' first 21 games, manager John Russell will continue to hand the ball to him with the game on the line in the ninth. Dotel's only hope is that that ball will begin being handed to him with more consistency.
The closer blew his second save of the season on Wednesday when he allowed the Brewers to score once in the bottom of the 10th. It marked the sixth straight appearance in which Dotel has allowed an opponent to score. And in a bigger picture, opponents are batting .357 against Dotel this season.
When asked about his recent struggles, Dotel reiterated that physically, there are no issues. The problem, he believes, has been the lack of consistent work in save situations.
"I've got everything I need to have," Dotel said. "I just want more activity. That gives me better command of my pitches."
Dotel has made nine season appearances, but Wednesday's was the first that had any bearing on the game's outcome since April 18. Prior to that, Russell had no choice but to send Dotel out in two blowout losses to Milwaukee simply to get the closer some game work. Dotel struggled immensely in both, allowing six earned runs and eight hits in 1 1/3 innings.
"I understand that I have to get my work done, but I'll be honest, I hate that," Dotel said of the inconsequential appearances. "I don't have the same intensity. I don't have the same adrenaline. I don't have the same feeling for the game. I shouldn't be that way because this is my job. I've got to come and do job."
Though the Pirates have two hard throwing right-handers -- Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek -- who are seen as potential closers down the road, the Pirates aren't abandoning their plan to use Dotel as the team's closer.
Meek did get the call to close on Thursday -- and succeeded -- though Russell emphasized afterward that his decision was dictated by the need to give Dotel a day off. It is not the start of a closer controversy.
"We just can't keep running him out there day after day," Russell said. "We have to make sure to protect him. With what we had [on Thursday], Evan was the freshest guy we had in the situation."
Should a save situation arise on Friday, Dotel will get the call.
"Don't panic with me," Dotel said. "I'm going to do my job. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do. I always earn my money. It's just been a little bumpy in April."