<
>

Worrell receives two-year contract

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies had trouble
finding a closer last season. Now they have two relievers who can
finish games.

Former San Francisco Giants closer Tim Worrell on Tuesday agreed
to a $5.5 million, two-year contract with the Phillies.

Worrell, 36, was 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA and 38 saves in 45 chances
for the NL West champion Giants last year. He took over as San
Francisco's closer after three-time All-Star Robb Nen had
season-ending shoulder surgery in May.

Worrell will earn $2.75 million in each of the next two seasons
and has the chance to make more in performance bonuses.

The right-hander will return to a setup role in Philadelphia.
The Phillies acquired closer Billy Wagner, a three-time All-Star,
from Houston last month.

"Tim is the ideal setup man for us," Phillies general manager
Ed Wade said. "It's nice to be in a position where the two new
bullpen pieces [Worrell and Wagner] combined a year ago for 82
saves."

Despite having success as a closer, Worrell doesn't mind being a
setup guy again.

"I said this all along and at the beginning of last year, it's
no different setting up. You have to get three outs," Worrell
said.

Jose Mesa, the Phillies' all-time leader with 111 saves,
struggled last season, lost his job twice and manager Larry Bowa
ended up going with a closer-by-committee. Mesa, who finished 5-7
with a 6.52 ERA and 24 saves in 28 chances, wasn't offered
arbitration.

It's been another busy offseason for the suddenly free-spending
Phillies. Philadelphia got former All-Star left-hander Eric Milton
in a trade with Minnesota last week, and is hoping to re-sign
right-hander Kevin Millwood for the 2004 season.

The Phillies offered arbitration to Millwood on Sunday, and he
told The Philadelphia Inquirer in its Tuesday editions that it's
"likely" he'll accept the offer. Millwood has until Dec. 19 to
make his decision.

Last year, the Phillies signed free agents Jim Thome ($85
million over six years) and David Bell ($17 million over four
years). They're moving into a new ballpark in April and expect to
generate more revenue.

Worrell spent three seasons in San Francisco, compiling a 14-11
record with a 2.87 ERA and 38 saves. He is 39-49 with a 3.90 ERA
and 45 saves in his 11-year career. Worrell has also played for San
Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs.

In 17 career playoff games, including the 2002 World Series with
the Giants, Worrell is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA.

Worrell struggled early in his career, but has pitched well
since going to the Cubs during the 2000 season. He has posted ERAs
of 2.99, 3.45, 2.25 and 2.87 in the last four seasons.

The Phillies' revamped bullpen now includes Wagner, Worrell and
left-hander Rheal Cormier, who is coming off a career year.
Left-hander Dan Plesac is expected to return after getting an
arbitration offer.

"Adding two experienced veteran relievers, with the statistics
they bring and their experience in playoff competition, should help
our ballclub get to the next level," Bowa said.

Philadelphia won 86 games last season, finishing third in the NL
East. The Phillies had a half-game lead over eventual World Series
winner Florida in the wild-card race with eight games remaining,
but lost six straight.

Worrell will wear No. 38 instead of the No. 45 he had worn.
Former Phillies reliever Tug McGraw, now battling brain cancer,
wore No. 45 when he pitched in Philadelphia.

"Out of respect for Tug and the support the organization and
the fans have given him, Tim was more than happy to surrender the
number and go with 38," Wade said.