Chad Durbin happy to be back with the Phillies

Posted: January 29, 2013

Two winters ago, it was no secret Chad Durbin craved a return to Philadelphia. He had spent the previous three seasons as one of the more durable middle-relief arms in baseball. But the Phillies wanted a younger pitcher to fill Durbin's role.

Durbin settled for a job in Cleveland and sputtered to a 5.53 ERA and a forgettable season.

"I pitched in meaningless innings," Durbin said. "It's terrible to say it that way, but I was throwing in the third and fourth innings of nine-run games in front of 10,000 people. Without adrenaline, a lot of your pitches don't do the same things. I had to adjust."

He adjusted in Atlanta last season and, on Tuesday, traveled full circle. He stood in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse in the ballpark where he has enjoyed his greatest moments.

Durbin officially signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract. The Phillies hold a club option for 2014. The 35-year-old righty said he had other offers, but his goal always was a reunion with his former team.

"I like the way the organization treats its players and the people here," Durbin said.

It is likely Durbin will be asked to fill the same role he did during the pennant years. Charlie Manuel relied on Durbin in the sixth or seventh innings and regularly asked him to pitch more than an inning at a time.

In 2008, Durbin recorded more than three outs in 29 separate outings. He did that only three times for the Braves in 2012 and threw fewer pitches (996) than in any season since 2006.

"If nothing else," Durbin said, "the light workload from the last two years will help me in the ability to go that route this year and throw a couple extra innings in spring training to get ready for it. I'm more than capable. I still throw the same pitches I did. It's just a matter of execution."

The faces from that dominant 2008 bullpen - Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre - have dispersed. Durbin, in fact, recently attended Lidge's retirement party in Colorado. Now the eldest member of the relief corps, Durbin is happy to serve as a mentor for the cadre of young arms.

"The game gives you a lot," Durbin said. "You want to give back."

To clear space for Durbin on the 40-man roster, reliever J.C. Ramirez was designated for assignment. Ramirez, 24, was one of three prospects acquired from Seattle for Cliff Lee. After two unspectacular seasons as a starter, Ramirez was converted to relief, where control problems persisted.


Contact Matt Gelb at  mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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