The Duck Pond is back.
The Phillies signed Brandon Duckworth, who spent three seasons with the team from 2001 to '03, to a minor-league contract last week, his agent said.
But the deal does not include an invitation to spring training, meaning Duckworth, who turns 34 next week, will likely provide the team with minor-league depth. The fan club may have to relocate to Lehigh Valley.
"We thought it made sense for both Brandon and the Phillies," said Craig Landis, Duckworth's agent.
Duckworth last pitched in the major leagues in 2008 for Kansas City, when he started seven games. In eight major-league seasons, Duckworth is 23-34 with a 5.28 ERA. Last season, Duckworth started 19 games for triple-A Omaha and had a 5.31 ERA.
He is pitching for the Cibao Giants in the Dominican Winter League, where the Phillies scouted him.
The Phils traded Duckworth to Houston after the 2003 season in the Billy Wagner deal.
In three seasons with the Phillies, the righty won 15 games and quickly became a fan favorite.
When he made his major-league debut Aug. 7, 2001 (a victory over San Diego), 13 fan clubs sprouted in the 700 level of Veterans Stadium - back when the Phillies counted bed sheets instead of pennants.
Durbin forges a deal. Reliever Chad Durbin avoided salary arbitration when he agreed to a one-year, $2.125 million contract with the Phils yesterday, according to the team's Web site. The righthander went 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA in 2009.
Negotiating time. Today is the day that arbitration-eligible players exchange salary figures with teams. The Phillies have three such players: outfielder Shane Victorino, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and righthander Joe Blanton.
When the players filed for arbitration with the players' union, they requested salary figures. The teams separately submit their intended figures, and those numbers will be revealed to both parties today.
Most times, the cases will avoid arbitration as the teams and players settle. Ryan Howard went to arbitration with the Phillies two years ago and was awarded $10 million. The Phillies are not likely to seek a multiyear contract for any of the four players.
The two sides have until the end of the month to negotiate; cases will go to arbitration hearings in February.
Two other pitchers sign. The Phillies also agreed to minor-league deals with righthanders Jason Standridge and Nate Bump.
Standridge, a former first-round pick, has not pitched in the majors since 2007. Bump, a Penn State grad, spent time in the Detroit Tigers organization and with the Camden Riversharks last season. He has not pitched in the majors since 2005.