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D'Backs Get Mantei From Fish

The Arizona Diamondbacks, in desperate need of a closer, got Matt Mantei from the Florida Marlins on Friday night for reliever Vladimir Nunez, top pitching prospect Brad Penny and a player to be named.

The Diamondbacks, challenging for the NL West title in only their second season, are 1½ games behind San Francisco. But Arizona relievers have blown 14 of their 29 save chances.

Mantei was 1-2 with 10 saves and a 2.72 ERA. The hard-throwing right-hander, who turned 26 this week, had struck out 50 in 36.1 innings.

The trade was made on Matt Mantei pin night at Pro Player Stadium. The Marlins, last in the NL East, announced the deal before playing Tampa Bay.

"I'm excited in a way, it can't do anything but make me happy," Mantei said, "but it's still sad to leave this organization, they've been great."

Nunez, a 24-year-old right-hander, was 3-2 with one save and a 2.91 ERA. He was one strike away from closing out a win Thursday night when he gave up a tying double to Houston's Derek Bell in the ninth. Arizona won 8-7 in the 11th.

"This is a hard decision for us," Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Matt has done a good job. We've watched his growth as a player and a person but it has been hard for us to get to the closer. We believe we've recieved a quality guy in Nunez."

Dombrowski said the player to be named was also a good prospect, but did not identify him.

The Diamondbacks hope Matt Mantei can be the answer to their bullpen woes.  <b>
The Diamondbacks hope Matt Mantei can be the answer to their bullpen woes. (AP)

Five different pitchers have combined to get Arizona's 15 saves. Gregg Olson leads with 11, but has been shaky for most of the season.

Penny, a 21-year-old right-hander, was 2-7 with a 4.70 ERA as a starter at Double-A El Paso. He was considered one of the Diamondbacks' best prospects.

The Marlins (11) and Kansas City (13) were the only teams in the majors with fewer saves than the Diamondbacks entering Friday night's game. Arizona had been trying to work out a deal for either Mantei or Montreal's Ugueth Urbina.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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