That fresh start will come with the Phillies, who completed their search for an experienced second lefty reliever by acquiring Eyre from the Cubs for Minor League right-hander Brian Schlitter on Thursday.
“I asked how their bullpen was, and if they were just looking for guys, and they said, ‘No, we think you can still pitch,'” said Eyre, who will join the Phillies on Friday. “I said, ‘Great, I’m ready to go.'”
The 36-year-old Eyre appeared in 19 games for the Cubs this season because of stints on the disabled list for left elbow inflammation and a strained left groin, and worked only 11 1/3 innings. He’ll work in a situational role in the middle innings, and replace either Les Walrond or J.A. Happ on the roster.
After nine scoreless innings in his first 14 outings this season, Eyre fell out of favor with Cubs manager Lou Piniella when he allowed nine runs in five appearances, spanning 2 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday, giving the Cubs seven days to trade him or he would become a free agent. He packed up his family in his RV, parked outside of Chicago, and headed to his home in Bradenton, Fla.
Eyre will turn around and drive to Philadelphia from Valdosta, Ga., where the family had reached when informed of the deal. The Phillies will be his fifth team, after the White Sox, Blue Jays, Giants and Cubs.
The last time he was designated for assignment, on Aug. 5, 2002, the Giants claimed him. He posted a 1.59 ERA in 21 appearances with San Francisco, which reached the World Series that year.
The Phillies’ bullpen has thrown the third-fewest innings in the National League this season, a product of the starters tossing the fifth-most innings. Still, manager Charlie Manuel would like some relief for late-inning pitchers Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin.
Lefties batted .259 (7-for-27) against Eyre this season, and have hit .244 against him in his career. In his past five seasons, Eyre has appeared in 317 games, the fourth-highest total among Major League lefties. Romero tops that list at 336.
“He’s a guy with a lot of experience,” said assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “We’ve been looking for a left-hander for a long time, and think this left-hander can help.”
The Phillies thought that, too, when they pursued him in the winter of 2006, before he signed with the Cubs.
“This is a veteran guy who has had a lot of success,” Amaro said. “He’s had success in the playoffs and he’ll rise to the challenge. He’s been through it, having those kind of experienced guys is helpful. We think he has enough bullets in that 36-year-old arm to help us.” Schlitter was 4-3 with six saves and a 2.22 ERA in 34 games for Class A Clearwater, with 58 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings this year. He was a 16th-round selection by the Phillies in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. (H/T Phillies.com)
Hold the phone. They went after him during the off-season, and didn’t get him? Why didn’t…oh that’s right, cheapskate owners. I keep forgetting that. Anyway, I hope he will be the left handed complement to Madson, as he and the rest of the ‘pen needs a break while Gordon and Seanez are still out. Now, who will go? My guess is Walrond, since J.A. Happ can still be used as insurance against either Blanton or Myers going bad, or maybe giving Hamels a possibily needed rest. As I’d said earlier, time will tell.