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Swindell Signs With Diamondbacks

November 12, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ The Arizona Diamondbacks, courting big-time free agents Randy Johnson and Bernie Williams, aimed their sights a little lower Wednesday and signed reliever Greg Swindell.

Swindell, who finished the season with Boston following a midseason trade from Minnesota, agreed to a $5.7 million, three-year contract. The Diamondbacks also signed utility man and pinch hitter Greg Colbrunn to a $1.8 million, two-year deal.

Swindell, a left-hander who will be 34 next season, was a combined 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA for the Twins and Red Sox last season in 81 relief appearances.

He was 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA for the Twins when they traded him to Boston on July 31 along with first baseman-outfielder Orlando Merced for right-hander Matt Kinney and left-handers Joe Thomas and John Barnes.

Swindell, who made $1.3 million last season, said he also got some interest from Boston, St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs. But the aggressive bargaining of Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. quickly erased any other alternatives.

The Diamondbacks initially offered a two-year contract with an option year. When Garagiola upped the offer to three years, the deal was sealed.

Swindell, who attended a news conference outside Bank One Ballpark with his wife and three young daughters, said the fact that his family moved to nearby Paradise Valley two months ago was a major factor in choosing Arizona.

``The last couple of years have been tough being away,″ he said. ``The kids are getting older. I’ve got a 9-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. I know my wife had some rough times being alone with all three of them.″

He also said he was happy ``just to come to this beautiful city and beautiful ballpark.″

Swindell said he believes the Diamondbacks are sincere in their efforts to become competitive.

``They’ve rolled some high-priced free agents through here the last two days,″ he said, referring to visits by Johnson and Williams.

Swindell was a starter before Minnesota moved him to the long relief job. He said he prefers the relief role, which allowed him to pitch in half of the 162 games last season.

``I’d like to pitch in 100, or whatever the record is,″ he said. ``It’s really an unsung position. I compare it to the fullback in football. They finally got the fullback a position in the Pro Bowl. I think there should be a long reliever in the All-Star Game.″

The Diamondbacks traded reliever Alan Embree to San Francisco on Tuesday for center fielder Dante Powell.

``We needed to get better in our relief pitching,″ Showalter said, ``and I think we got that in Greg Swindell.″

Colbrunn, 29, hit a combined .307 this year for Colorado and Atlanta with three homers and 23 RBIs in 166 at-bats. He played for the Braves at the end of the 1997 season and the Braves reacquired him July 30 for minor league pitchers David Cortes and Mike Porzio.

Showalter said he can use Colbrunn at several positions, including first base and catcher, as well as a pinch hitter.

Colbrunn, who made $660,000 this year, gets $900,000 in each of the next two seasons. He can earn an additional $1 million per year in performance bonuses, and any bonuses earned in 1999 would be added to his base salary in 2000. If he has 550 plate appearances in each year, he would wind up making $4.8 million.

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