My journey in baseball has been great. It's big fun. When you are a kid, all you think about is playing in the big leagues. For me, it has been a dream come true.
I have been through a lot, but this year I was really ready. I felt great. I threw a bullpen session for the Dodgers in the spring, and they liked what they saw. Kenny Howell, Rick Honeycutt and Rafael Chaves, our club's pitching coordinator, have worked really hard with me. It started early in Spring Training, working out every day, and it was and has been great. I love it here. They have been really good to me.
I think having hip labrum surgery after the 2009 season scared off some teams a little bit. Last year was a battle, but I got back to the big leagues despite not being 100 percent healthy. It was an important year for me, as is this one. I got healthy this offseason, and here I am.
Injuries are part of the game and I have had my fair share, including a time after I had been called up to the Majors by Kansas City. Carlos Beltran was batting, and I had just walked out to the dugout and was sitting. I stood up and went to see my buddy, Kris Wilson. I turned to him and I said, 'Hey, Kris.' He yelled, 'Heads up!' as the bat slipped out of Beltran's hands.
Kris kind of grabbed me and pulled me down. The bat hit me on the left side of my head. It was just bad timing. I went home and couldn't really throw. It screwed with my head a little bit. I tried to start off the next year, but it wasn't really working. I took some time off. When I came back, I was on a pitch count. I got called up late in the 2002 season, and I got to throw a couple of innings out of the bullpen. I never started again.
My first year closing went all right. I had my ups and downs. Overall, I thought I was pretty good. I got to go to the All-Star Game and that was great. It was very exciting. I was a rookie, and I went there with teammate Mike Sweeney. It could not have been any better. It was an awesome experience.
I have changed a lot as a pitcher over the years. When you throw hard, everybody says "just throw the fastball." The hitters here are too good. Unless you locate it perfectly each time, they are going to hit it eventually.
In his first season with Los Angeles, veteran reliever Mike MacDougal has been a solid contributor to the Dodgers, posting a 2.25 ERA in 54 games. He has 71 saves throughout his career.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.