KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At least one of the major worries the Royals were facing to start the 2012 season seems to have been resolved the replacement for Joakim Soria.
Granted, it's early, but the Royals, who at one point were expected to split the closer duties between Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland, settled on Broxton quickly. And so far, they haven't regretted it.
Broxton, for the most part, has been exactly as advertised a veteran closer with dominant stuff at times.
"We've been very pleased with how he's come along," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's pretty much what we saw in spring training."
The only hiccup, of course, was Broxton's dreadful outing in Oakland, the extra-inning loss that started the 12-game losing streak. Broxton coughed up a one-run lead and lost the game by hitting two straight batters, the last coming with the bases loaded and the score tied.
"Those things are going to happen, unfortunately," Broxton said. "There are going to be times you don't have good command, and when you don't have good command, bad things happen. That's what happened to me that night. Bad game."
Broxton, though, put that game behind him and is four-for-four since in save opportunities.
"It seemed like a long time before I got my next save chance after that Oakland game," he said. "I was ready to show I could do it."
Actually, Broxton had no idea he'd be closing games at all. He signed a one-year deal with the Royals primarily to be a set-up man to Soria, who was lost for the season because of an elbow injury.
"It's just awful what happened to (Soria)," Broxton said. "That's not how you want to get a job. But now we have to make the best of it, all of us."
The Royals had been hoping that Broxton would recover quickly from the elbow surgery he had last season. They were hoping they eventually would get the Broxton who was a flame-throwing, two-time All-Star with the Dodgers.
That still might happen.
"I feel like my velocity is pretty much there," Broxton said. "But the bigger thing is having the arm strength. It's getting stronger each week."
Even though it had been almost a year since Broxton's last save, he said his first opportunity in Anaheim didn't feel odd at all.
"I've done quite a bit of closing," he said. "I think I know how to do it.
"It's just a matter of confidence and I never really lost my confidence. The way I approach it is you have a job to do. I need to go out and get three outs. It doesn't mater if it's the sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth inning. Get your job done. Get the outs."
Broxton's emergence as the Royals' closer is not only helpful to them, but it will be a great boost to Broxton's off-season chances of signing a lucrative deal somewhere else.
"That's not how I think," he said. "If the only reason you're playing is the money, that's not good. I'm not like that.
"I came here to do a job and help the Royals. That's my only focus."