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Braves sign Alfonseca


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Braves add Alfonseca to bullpen

By Mark Bowman / MLB.com




Antonio Alfonseca lost his closer's job after suffering an injury during Spring Training. (Aynsley Floyd/AP)


ATLANTA -- The Braves bolstered their bullpen by coming to terms on a one-year deal with veteran right-handed reliever Antonio Alfonseca on Friday afternoon.

Alfonseca will give the Braves a much-needed veteran presence in their bullpen. He will join Will Cunnane, Jaret Wright and Kevin Gryboski as closer John Smoltz's primary setup men.


The Braves have been forced to operate under a tight budget throughout the offseason and had lost out in their pursuit of other veteran relievers like Tim Worrell and Arthur Rhodes.


But Alfonseca's disappointing 2003 season dramatically dropped his price tag. The 31-year-old reliever, who made $4 million last year, will make $1.5 million and have the chance to earn another $1 million in incentives in 2004.



While pitching for the Cubs last season, Alfonseca went 3-1 with a career-worst 5.83 ERA. Opponents hit .290 against him and he issued 27 walks and recorded 51 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings.


Some of Alfonseca's struggles last year could be attributed to a strained hamstring that he suffered while fielding a ball on wet turf on March 18. He missed about six weeks and wasn't able to return until early May.


By the time he returned, Alfonseca's targeted closer's role had been given to Joe Borowski.


Alfonseca pitched effectively in May and June. But once July rolled around, the veteran reliever began struggling and never was able to get himself right. He posted a 9.64 ERA during the season's final four months.


While Smoltz contends his elbow will be ready for the start of Spring Training, Alfonseca has plenty of closer's experience to be able to fill that role if needed. During the 2000 season with the Marlins, he posted a Major League-best 45 saves and was named the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.



During Spring Training in 2002, Alfonseca had a confrontation with then-Marlins manager Jeff Torborg's son, who had ended his professional wrestling career to become the Marlins strength and conditioning coach. A short time later, the veteran right-hander and Matt Clement were shipped to the Cubs in a deal that brought a relatively unknown Dontrelle Willis into Florida's organization.


The Braves bullpen is still lacking a proven, veteran left-handed reliever. The club may open a spot on its 40-man roster, which is now full, by releasing a mid-level prospect. Clubs have until midnight ET Saturday to determine if they are going to tender contracts to players that don't have guaranteed deals.


credit -MLB.com

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brave bullpen=philly bullpen of 2003 (hopefully)

The Phillies had a great bullpen most of the year... Yea with Turk Wendell, Jose Mesa, and Mike Williams.


:o :confused mike williams was added later in the season, plesac, and cormier were in the league leaders in era, and wendell wasnt bad. plus terry adams had a 2.65 era Exactly. They were great most of the time. They just sucked horribly in August and September, and oddly enough, they mostly just sucked against the mighty mighty Marlins.


And I don't disagree with the actual signing of Alfonseca, but with the price they signed him at.

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