|Phillies boost bullpen by getting troubled reliever Julio Mateo from Mariners|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2007 13:04|
Mateo hasn't pitched in the major leagues since early May. The right-hander was suspended by the Mariners after his May 5 arrest for allegedly assaulting his wife at a Manhattan hotel. He is due back in court in New York on Sept. 4 on a third-degree assault charge.
The Phillies sent infielder Jesus Merchan from Double-A Reading to Seattle for Mateo. Merchan hit .330 with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 81 games at Reading.
Mateo was 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in nine appearances this season. He will be assigned to Triple-A Ottawa, though he could end up with the Phillies quickly.
Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said his team had decided long ago that Mateo would never pitch for the Mariners again, and that Mateo agreed. Then the Mariners aggressively sought the setup reliever that Mateo used to be for them before the trade deadline, but were unable to complete a deal.
Bavasi said he never reconsidered bringing Mateo back to Seattle after his 10-day suspension despite a strong performance at Triple-A Tacoma.
``Our approach with him was that it would be better for us and for him if he broke back in elsewhere. And he didn't fight that idea,'' Bavasi said, while declining to detail what led the Mariners to conclude that. ``It was collaborative effort to get him a new home.''
Bavasi said Mariners players had zero input on the decision that Mateo would never return.
``We felt that ... him debuting here could affect his performance,'' Bavasi said.
It was Philadelphia's fourth trade since Friday. The Phillies entered the day trailing the NL East-leading New York Mets by three games.
Mateo, who turns 30 on Thursday, is 18-12 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA in 219 games over six seasons in Seattle. He had an 0.79 ERA in 24 games at Triple-A Tacoma, allowing just three earned runs in 34 1-3 innings. Opponents batted just .200 against him.
Mateo eventually could help fill the void created by Ryan Madson's injury. The reliever was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder problem Sunday. The Phillies recently got closers Brett Myers and Tom Gordon back after both pitchers missed more than two months with shoulder injuries.
Philadelphia's starting rotation has been depleted by injuries and inconsistency, too. Freddy Garcia, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the offseason, was 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts before he went down with a shoulder injury that could keep him out the rest of the season. Jon Lieber was 3-6 in 12 starts before a foot injury ended his season in June.
General manager Pat Gillick, the former GM in Seattle who is familiar with Mateo from being a special consultant with the Mariners in 2004-05, was quite active in the past five days. He acquired second baseman Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox after All-Star Chase Utley had surgery on his broken right ring finger Friday.
On Monday, Gillick bolstered the rotation by getting right-hander Kyle Lohse from Cincinnati for a minor-league pitcher. Earlier Tuesday, the Phillies purchased the contract of reliever Gary Knotts from Newark of the independent Atlantic League and sent him to Double-A.
Mateo missed most of spring training last season when he returned to the Dominican Republic following the death of his brother in an automobile accident. He came back and was 9-4 with a 4.19 ERA in 48 games. But in late August a weight plate fell onto his left hand and broke it. He missed the rest of the season.
He pitched well for Seattle the first month before he had more troubles. After Mateo's arrest, the Mariners demoted him to Triple-A and then suspended him for 10 days without pay. He underwent counseling before returning to the mound.
AP Sports Writer Gregg Bell in Seattle contributed to this report.