By Phil Anastasia
Inquirer Staff Writer
Greg Burke is thrilled to sign with the Phillies, his "hometown team."
He's even happier to be healthy in the off-season for the first time in a few years.
"That's the big thing for me," said Burke, a former Gloucester Catholic star pitcher who signed with the Phillies on Monday. "I finally feel good in the off-season and can get some good work in preparing for spring training."
Burke's contract is a minor-league deal, with an invitation to the big league training camp.
Burke, a 33-year-old right-handed reliever, has fashioned a long professional career since graduating from Duke University in 2005.
The 6-foot-4 Burke pitched last season in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization, compiling a combined 5-1 record with a 2.63 ERA between double A and triple A.
"I pitched well against the Phillies (teams)," Burke said. "I think that helped."
Burke, who has adapted a submarine-style motion, has pitched in the majors with San Diego in 2009 and the New York Mets in 2013.
In his major-league career, Burke has a 3-6 record with a 4.77 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 38 walks in 77.1 innings.
Burke has undergone surgery to repair his rotator cuff and his hip in two of the last three off-seasons.
He said he feels "great" and is excited about the opportunity to compete for a job with the Phillies' organization.
Burke, who lives in Medford with his wife and two children, said "proximity" is a huge factor for him.
Burke grew up in Bellmawr and "definitely" was a Phillies' fan as a youngster.
At Gloucester Catholic, he was an ace pitcher for a team that in his senior season in 2000 went 33-1 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America.
"Most of my career has been spent out West," Burke said. "To be able to come home, that's huge."
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