D-backs acquire reliever Rivera from Indians
Right-hander Howry released to make room on 25-man roster
MIAMI -- With a bullpen that easily ranks last in the Major Leagues in ERA, the D-backs, as manager A.J. Hinch said, are "open to any and all contributions." Veteran right-hander Saul Rivera was available, and he had been pitching well at the Triple-A level.
So on Monday -- after another rough outing from their relievers against the Braves the previous day -- the D-backs made another move to shake up their relief corps, when they acquired Rivera from the Indians for cash considerations and released the struggling Bob Howry in order to make room on the roster.
The 32-year-old Rivera was 2-0 with four saves and a 0.53 ERA in 17 innings over 15 relief appearances for Triple-A Columbus, where he limited opponents to a .155 batting average. Left-handers hit just .100 against him.
"I'm going to use him," Hinch said prior to the start of a two-game series against the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. "I can't map it out perfectly for him right now. I just told him to be ready. And I think he's excited. One day, you're in Triple-A, outperforming the league, and the next day, you're on a different team. That doesn't happen a ton, but for him, he's going to be given plenty of opportunities."
Rivera struggled with the Nationals last year, when he posted a 6.10 ERA in 30 games after sporting a 3.72 ERA his previous three seasons in the big leagues. He was then signed to a contract by Cleveland in December, which Rivera said included an out clause if he wasn't on a Major League roster by mid-May.
The Puerto Rico native found out about the move on Sunday night and flew from Columbus, Ohio, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the series opener. Rivera wasn't expecting a trade, but, "It was a good surprise," he said.
Rivera had been swapping the eighth and ninth innings in the Minors and hasn't pitched since Friday, so he's ready and available.
As for what he attributed to better numbers in the Minors compared to what he did in the Majors last year?
"Just attacking the zone," Rivera said. "I think that was the key.
"I try to use everything -- sinker, slider, curveball. Just trying to keep it low in the zone, because if you elevate that ball a little bit, it could go a long way."
After giving up six runs in 3 2/3 frames during a 13-1 loss to the Braves on Sunday, the D-backs bullpen sports a 7.68 ERA, which is by far the highest in the Majors. The Brewers bullpen, ranked 29th, has a 5.89 ERA.
Howry, in particular, has struggled all year, as he posted a 10.67 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. Signed to a $2 million contract with a $3 million option for 2011 this offseason, the 36-year-old was brought in with hopes that he could help stabilize the 'pen. But, as Hinch conceded, "It just didn't work out."
"It's unfortunate for everybody involved -- our team, him -- and it's time to make a change," said Hinch, whose club has dropped eight of its last nine games. "I talked to him this morning, informed him of the decision, thanked him for his efforts, and he took it like a real pro. He's been around a long time. In a lot of ways, I don't think it surprised him."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.