Every major league team has questions that begin to be answered when spring training starts. The Philadelphia Phillies have their own set of queries to resolve as the new season is set to begin. This week, two of their off-season roster responses come to life.
Jonathan Papelbon was last offseason's biggest addition. The closer was expensive, but he also became the most consistent part of the 2012 relief corps. No one could ask for more than that.
Ryan Madson's elevation to the Phillies' closer's spot obviously removed him from being the team's superb setup man. His choice to sign a one-year free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds and subsequent injury, led to natural speculation that he might return to town. But, that didn't happen.
Instead, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. signed Texas Rangers' free agent Mike Adams. This veteran reliever has been one of the best middle-innings' men in the game for many years.
Amaro must have been convinced that Adams' battles with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (a condition where the rib bone pushes against a nerve and can cause numbness, or pain in the arm, or shoulder) won't limit his effectiveness this season. As long as the 34-year-old right-hander is healthy, he might evoke memories of “Mad Dog's” eighth inning bite.
Reunions have been a consistent part of the game through the years. Such is the case with Chad Durbin's return to red pinstripes.
This 35-year-old right-hander could be another smart free agent acquisition. He had a good year for the Atlanta Braves last season and should help to stabilize the sixth and seventh frames in approximately 60 games this year.
The 2013 path to Papelbon will look dramatically different than the 2012 road did if both of these experienced arms pitch to expected results.