Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Veteran Reliever Eager to Help

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Veteran Reliever Eager to Help

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A lot transpired in Jose Contreras' baseball career before his arrival Sunday at the McKechnie Field clubhouse.

He followed a stellar career in Cuba with a defection and a large contract with the New York Yankees. After a trade to the Chicago White Sox, he discovered success as a starter. Pitching in his late 30s with the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies as a reliever, Contreras showed he still had it.

Sitting his 6-foot-4 frame on a stool in the back corner of the clubhouse, the 41-year-old right-hander discussed trying to help the Pirates as he recovers from his second elbow surgery in a 10-month span. He will figure out his role with the team later.

"They haven't talked about that," Contreras said in Spanish, with bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade translating. "The deal was just done two days ago. I'm here to help anywhere the Pirates need it."

Contreras had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in late June after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament and flexor pronator tendon. He also had elbow surgery in September 2011.

"If we get Jose Contreras back to the Jose Contreras he's been in the past, it's a very productive major league pitcher," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We'll see where he falls in the bullpen. If he gets back to where he was, he could be a very productive member of our bullpen."

Contreras' road to the bullpen was a long one. He compiled a 117- 50 record and 2.82 ERA in seven seasons in Cuba, according to the Yankees, before defecting in 2002 and establishing residency in Nicaragua. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Yankees, but had a 5.64 ERA in 18 starts in 2004, and New York traded him to the White Sox.

His four years in Chicago proved more successful. He won at least 10 games a season from 2005-07, won a World Series in 2005 and made the American League All-Star team in 2006. After he compiled a 5.42 ERA in 21 starts in 2009, the White Sox traded him to the Rockies. He then signed with the Phillies before the 2010 season. …

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