Last December, a little known free agent named Chad Durbin signed with the Phillies and went on to establish himself as one of the key components in a bullpen that finished the regular season ranked as the best in the National League East.
This year, Mike Koplove will try to do the same.
Two sources familiar with the situation confirmed yesterday that the Phillies agreed to terms with the 32-year-old righthander on a contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Unlike Durbin, who signed a 1-year, $900,000 contract, Koplove, a Philadelphia native, must prove himself next spring to make the roster of his hometown team.
Koplove was a first-team Daily News All-City selection as a senior Chestnut Hill Academy in 1995. He played at the University of Delaware and has pitched in parts of seven big-league seasons, six of them for the Diamondbacks.
He has appeared in only seven major league games since 2005, when he went 2-1 with a 5.07 ERA in 44 appearances for Arizona, but will likely get a chance to win a roster spot this spring as the Phillies look for another arm capable of pitching multiple innings of relief.
In 222 career appearances, he has pitched 254 2/3 innings, going 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA with 175 strikeouts, 103 walks, and an average of 1.312 walks/hits allowed per inning pitched.
A 29th-round draft pick of Arizona in 1998, Koplove broke into the big leagues in 2001, then went 6-1 with a 3.36 ERA in 55 appearances in 2002. He saw significant action in 2003 (3-0, 2.15 ERA in 31 games), 2004 (4-4, 4.05 ERA in 76 games), and 2005. He appeared in only two games in 2006, eventually signing free-agent contracts with the Marlins, Indians and Dodgers.
Koplove spent last season in the Dodgers system, going 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA and a .213 opponents' batting average for Triple A Las Vegas. He was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in Beijing, where he was teammates with Phillies minor leaguers Jason Donald and Lou Marson.
Koplove likely will be assigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley, but will be invited to big-league spring training in Clearwater, Fla.
the Phillies signed first baseman
to minor league deals. Cervenak and Tracy both saw stints with the Phillies during the 2008 season . . . Shortstop
celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday. *
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