12/07/07 7:16 PM ET
Sox retain Timlin with one-year deal
Agreement keeps reliever in Boston for sixth straight season
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
When Timlin arrives at Spring Training in February, he will be entering his sixth season with the Red Sox.
This marks the fourth time Timlin has been eligible to depart Boston and sign somewhere else, only to return to the team he's been so comfortable with since 2003.
Timlin said there were some other intriguing options out there, but nothing that could sway him to move on.
"Well, you know, it's a place that you're familiar with," Timlin said. "We know the organization, we know the people in the organization. They know what my family is about, what we consider important to us. We kind of fall along the same lines in our thinking. We're comfortable there and that's a huge part. If you're comfortable playing somewhere and you're having success, there's not a whole lot of reason to change."
The Red Sox did not release details of the contract, though reports indicate that it's worth roughly $3 million.
After struggling through an injury-plagued and ineffective 2006 season, Timlin was again hurt early in 2007, but returned to form during Boston's World Series championship season. He went 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and earned one save over his 50 appearances.
"I just got my strength back and was more consistent throwing strikes," Timlin said. "That's all it was from August on."
Timlin, 41, got a couple of critical strikeouts in the clinching Game 4 of the World Series at Colorado. During the 2007 postseason, Timlin registered a 3.18 ERA over six outings, walking none and striking out seven. Aside from being a key performer, Timlin is also considered a spiritual leader in the bullpen.
Timlin is the only member of the Red Sox to be a part of four different World Series championship teams. He was with the Blue Jays when they won back-to-back titles in 1992-93, and he has been a core member of Boston's championship teams of 2004 and '07.
With 44 career appearances in the postseason, Timlin ranks fourth on the all-time list.
"That's the reason you play," Timlin said. "You want to play in the postseason. That's the fun part of the game. It's a lot of fun all year to play, and to play hard. You're there because you want to go to the World Series and Championship Series and you want to be part of the playoffs. That's what teams are remembered for, when they go to the playoffs and win. The reason I get better [in October]? I don't know. I've never really considered myself a pressure pitcher, but there's a lot of pressure in Boston to win. For some reason, God has given me the ability to do that. I've been doing it well."
And he's been doing it a long time.
"I don't know how many I have left, but honestly, no, I never thought I'd be pitching this long," Timlin said. "My wife [Dawn] and I kind of kid each other. She's like, 'You just keep going and going and I don't know when you're going to stop.' What I know is that I'm closer to the end than the beginning -- I'll tell you that."
Timlin has pitched in 1,011 regular-season games during his career, going 71-69 with a 3.55 ERA while posting 140 saves.
Timlin, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima figure to be key setup men for closer Jonathan Papelbon next season. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is trying to add some more depth to the bullpen.
Of course, there are other matters on Epstein's plate, such as the pursuit of Twins ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana.
"That's pretty interesting," said Timlin. "Johan, he's an awesome pitcher, an incredible talent. It would be good to see him on our team. As much as I've seen him across the field, it would be great to watch him in the same uniform perform the way he does. It would make definitely for a formidable rotation to have him and [Josh] Beckett and [Curt] Schilling, [Daisuke Matsuzaka] and Wake [Tim Wakefield] and [Jon] Lester and whoever else. Having Johan -- I'm watching it intently. Every chance I get, I'll jump on the Internet or I'll watch on TV just in case we try to land him. Hopefully that will come to fruition and we'll have him."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.