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Series savior Robertson gets 2nd chance Phils 3 years later National News

By on October 30, 2022 0

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — David Robertson left the mound after retiring from Miami’s Miguel Rojas in April 2019. He wouldn’t pitch another major league pitch for nearly 2 1/2 years.

He was a big money bust, his elbow shot less than a month in a $23 million, two-year contract with the Phillies. An operation, a trip to Japan and three shifts later, he wears those knee-high socks on a World Series mound, closing for Philadelphia at 37.

“Very happy to be here in Philadelphia,” he said. “I felt like my first go-around here didn’t work well for me or for the team. I missed seven games and never really got to show what I could do or be able to help the club.”

Robertson smiled as his teammates followed him to exchange slaps after Friday night’s opener. Robertson got the stoppage for getting the last three outs a 6-5 victory in 10 sets, retiring Aledmys Díaz on a late-game pitch but only after allowing the runners to reach second and third. He lived up to the “Houdini” nickname he earned with the New York Yankees, where he succeeded Mariano Rivera as the closer.

“He tended to get in trouble and then get out of it,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson, a Yankees coach from 2008 to 2017. “But that’s who he is. He has a very calm demeanor. and a slow heartbeat and he transmits that all the way through the bullpen, so he helps a lot of young guys. A lot of guys go through problems, he can help them.”

A Birmingham native who attended the University of Alabama, Robertson was drafted by the Yankees in the 17th round of the 2006 entry draft and reached the major leagues two years later. He was an average reliever in the 2009 title chase, picking up victories in the Division Series and League Championship Series and making a pair of scoreless appearances against the Phillies in the World Series as the Yankees captured the title.

Robertson did not return to the series until this year.

“I feel like I’m an integral part of the team,” he said. “2009 was my second year in the league and there were so many superstars in that team that I just tried to sit back and enjoy it, but I don’t remember that many.”

In his 14th major league season, Robertson has 57 wins and 157 saves. He became a late-inning reliever in 2011, earning his only All-Star trip, was promoted to main setup man in 2012, then closer when Rivera retired after the 2013 season. year in the role, Robertson left for a four-year, $46 million deal with the Chicago White Sox.

He was returned to the Yankees in July 2017. Even on a top team, he was relatively anonymous away from the ballpark, taking the subway to Yankee Stadium in a hoodie.

When the contract expired, he became a free agent again and signed with the Phillies. Stopped 2½ weeks into the season with what was initially diagnosed as a strained flexor tendon, Robertson underwent surgery on August 15 with Dr. James Andrews.

“I definitely had a rough road coming back from that injury. I had a little more of a tougher than the Tommy John. I also had a flexor repair,” Robertson said. “So my timeline was a lot longer than most people. And I was 34 when I had surgery, so it took me a bit of time to come back. In my mind, it wasn’t Actually, I just needed it long enough to get my elbow straight to be able to throw.”

It spent much of 2020 rehabilitating and was closed after a setback in August. His contract with the Phillies ended, he promised USA Baseball executive director Paul Seiler that he would play for the US Olympic team under Mike Scioscia. Robertson had two saves as the Americans won the silver medal.

“It was so hot there. And even coming from Alabama, the humidity there was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time,” Robertson said. “You’re playing 100 degrees with 100% humidity on AstroTurf, and the game was so fast. They made it go faster than anything I’ve ever seen. And no fans in the seats, so you could hear it all.”

He signed with Tampa Bay just over a week after the Olympics, pitched six times for Triple-A Durham and was back in the majors on September 1, 2021. He pitched 12 regular season games and three in the Division Series. Then in January, he signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs it would earn him an additional $1.6 million in bonuses.

The batters had just one hit in their first 34 at-bats against him this season. With Chicago out of action, the Phillies acquired him at the August 2 trade deadline for minor league right-hander Ben Brown.

“He was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball at that time,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “He pitched in big moments in a big market, so we thought if we were going to get someone who can pitch late in the game, he would feel very comfortable doing it.”

Robertson had six saves in nine opportunities with a 2.70 ERA for the Phillies and finished the season with 20 saves in 28 opportunities and a .173 batting average with a 2.40 ERA and 1.16 WHIP . He averaged 93 mph with his cutter, close to his pre-op peak.

Then he opened the playoffs by taking the win with a perfect eighth inning against Saint-Louis in the Wild Card series opener. He missed the Division Series after injuring his right calf while jumping to celebrate Bryce Harper’s home run in the decisive win over the Cardinals.

It took Robertson 13 years to return to baseball’s biggest stage, and he’s enjoying the moment.

“Pretty good adrenaline rush there,” he said the day after the series ended. “It turned into a tough inning there, but it’s always tough to get those last three outs.”