Springer Returns To D'Backs

Iraqi Shiite Muslims burn a U.S. flag in Sadr city, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 10, 2006, when President Jalal Talabani issued a decree that orders Iraq's new parliament to hold its first session.

Russ Springer, an original Arizona Diamondback, returned to the team Tuesday when he agreed to a $4 million, two-year contract.

Springer, a 31-year-old right-hander, was 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and one save in 49 games for Atlanta last season, allowing 31 hits in 47 1-3 innings with 49 strikeouts. He allowed only four of 29 inherited runners to score.

"We walked away from more money from other places," Springer said. "But that's not what it was all about. As soon as I saw Arizona was interested in me, I wanted to see how interested. If they were real interested, that's where I wanted to be."

Springer was taken by Arizona from Houston in the November 1998 expansion draft. Springer's health problems affected him with Arizona, where he was 4-3 with a 4.13 ERA before the Diamondbacks traded him to Atlanta for left-hander Alan Embree on June 23, 1998.

"In the expansion draft, it was the Diamondbacks selecting Russ Springer, and now two years later it's Russ Springer selecting the Diamondbacks," Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said.

Springer had surgery last January to repair a ruptured disc in his back and had bone spurs removed from his right elbow. His fastball was measured at as high as throw 92-93 mph.

The Diamondbacks have an option that, if exercised, would bring the value of the deal to just under $6 million.

"He's had a history of setting up and occasionally closing, and that's one thing you've always got to wonder about what if?" Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter said. "You've got to cover yourself in case something happens with (closer) Matt Mantei."

Springer knows he'll probably be the setup man for Mantei.

"I came here to throw the seventh or eighth inning," he said. "That's where I've been the most successful in the past, and I think that's the spot they felt like they needed to upgrade."

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