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After 10 years, Phelps finally makes big club

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from the Sun-Sentinel


After 10 years in minors, Phelps finally makes big club


By Juan C. Rodriguez

Staff Writer

Posted March 29 2003


JUPITER ? Juan Alvarez couldn't leave the Marlins' clubhouse fast enough. Tommy Phelps could have stayed there enjoying the moment forever.


Following Friday's game the Marlins told Phelps his decade-long journey to reach the majors was over. Phelps got the nod over Alvarez for the team's remaining bullpen spot. A career minor-leaguer who made his professional debut in 1993, Phelps will fill in until A.J. Burnett comes off the disabled list and Michael Tejera slides into the bullpen.


That his first big-league stint is likely temporary didn't dampen the occasion.


"My whole goal was to get noticed," Phelps said. "What I always hear is the trick is not getting there. I want to do my job and try to stay there. [Manager Jeff Torborg]was saying I had a good spring, was effective against righties and lefties, and I paid my dues."


Phelps was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in nine spring appearances (14 innings). More importantly, the Marlins felt as a former starter he was better equipped to go more than one inning.


Though Alvarez, a Coral Gables native, had an equally impressive spring statistically (1-1, 0.84 ERA), the Marlins see him more as a situational lefty. Alvarez's major league experience (72 games over parts of three seasons) wasn't enough to sway the decision.


"That was a factor we considered, but Tommy's been around," Torborg said. "This isn't a guy we're bringing out of A ball. Juan is in our plans. He's our insurance policy. That doesn't comfort him, but the fact is if we need a situational left-hander we got him."


Alvarez, who was reassigned to minor league camp, packed his bag in a huff before darting out of the clubhouse. He'll likely start the year at Triple-A Albuquerque.


"Obviously I didn't pitch well enough to make this team," Alvarez said. "I don't know what to tell you. I've been playing mind games with myself the last few days."




The Marlins closed out their Grapefruit League schedule with an 8-4 win over the Expos at Roger Dean Stadium to finish 14-16. Before Monday's season opener, the Marlins have one more exhibition this afternoon against Double-A affiliate Carolina in Zebulon, N.C.


Expos starter Zach Day surrendered all eight of the Marlins' runs. After Brian Banks drew a leadoff walk in the third, the Marlins strung together five consecutive hits for a five-run inning.


Second baseman Luis Castillo, who went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI, was one of five Marlins with a multi-hit effort. The Marlins totaled 15 hits and concluded Grapefruit League play outscoring their opponents 175-144.


Tejera went the first five innings, allowing five hits and two runs. One of those was a massive Vladimir Guerrero solo blast to straightaway center. Tejera would later strike him out.




Moving their spring training operation from Viera to Jupiter didn't make much difference at the turnstiles for the Marlins. They averaged 3,922 fans during their 15 home dates. The only other year they drew fewer fans was 1995, when an average of 3,617 attended 17 home dates at Space Coast Stadium.


I feel bad for Alvarez, he pitched well enough to stick around. Nice for Phelps though to finally get a big league shot. That's baseball I guess.

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