Phillies acquire Urbina from Tigers

Phillies acquire Urbina from Tigers

PHILADELPHIA -- In the thick of the hotly contested National League East race, the Phillies made a bold move to bolster their bullpen on Wednesday, acquiring Ugueth Urbina in a three-player trade with the Tigers.

The high price included infielder Placido Polanco, with Philadelphia native Ramon Martinez also coming to the Phillies. Both Urbina and Martinez are expected for Thursday's game, when the Phillies will have to make a roster move.

"We've very excited about this deal," said general manager Ed Wade. "We're adding a guy who was closing with another club and was very, very effective over the course of his career. He's pitched on a championship team and can pitch effectively in tight situations. Adding him to the back end of the bullpen with Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson and Billy Wagner gives us one more strong piece at the end of games."

That includes this season in which the 31-year-old Urbina is 1-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 25 games, and has struck out 18 batters in 15 innings over his past 13 outings. The Tigers are 12-0 over his last 12 appearances.

A right-hander with 236 career saves, Urbina recorded nine of those this season while filling in for Troy Percival. Manager Charlie Manuel said Urbina will likely move into setup role, pushing Ryan Madson back into a role in which he can pitch multiple innings.

If Tim Worrell returns at some point this season, he'll figure into the mix as well. Wade said Worrell's status had little to with the decision to make this swap.

The deal is a wash salary wise. Polanco earned $4.6 million, while Urbina and Martinez come in at about $5 million. The 32-year-old Martinez was hitting .268 in 19 games, including 15 starts. He has played shortstop, third base, second base and first base.

Offensively, this ends the daily saga of who will play second base for the Phillies. With Placido Polanco gone, the job belongs to Chase Utley.

"I'm excited for both of us, actually," said Utley. "I'm excited about getting more playing time and I'm excited for him to have a chance to play every day. I guess I don't have to look over my shoulder anymore. Polly was a great teammate and I wish him the best of luck."

Polanco had the typical mixed feelings about being dealt. He's grateful for the opportunity to play every day, but will miss the friends he made in his nearly three seasons in Philadelphia. He accepted salary arbitration in the winter, despite the knowledge that the Phillies wanted the job to go to Utley.

Polanco goes from the fourth-place Phillies to the fourth-place Tigers, though the Phillies entered Wednesday 1 1/2 games out of first place. Detroit is 11 out.

"That makes it worse," said Polanco. "[The Phillies] have a really good chance now. I just wanted to play. I wanted to stay here my whole life. It's very hard [to leave]. You're family's here, you get used to the city. You make a lot of good friends. It's sad. But at the same time, you have to be prepared for anything."

Philadelphia is prepared to add Urbina to an exhausted bullpen, and Urbina is familiar with the NL East. He was dealt to Florida in 2003, and helped them defeat the Yankees in the World Series.

Manuel said Urbina will close occasionally when Wagner needs a break.

"I've seen Urbina pitch a lot and he's got a lot of experience," said Manuel. "He'll go to the back end of our bullpen. He'll set up Wagner and close on the days when Billy needs off. This is very big, it will help us a lot. Our bullpen has been overworked."

While the players are happy to have Urbina from a professional standpoint, one of the happiest players is Bobby Abreu, a fellow Venezuelan and close friend. The pair has played together in Venezuela.

Abreu was particularly concerned when Urbina was going through a trying time last season, when his mother's kidnapping made national news. Thankfully, that situation was resolved in February.

"Personally, I think it's a good thing to bring him here," Abreu said.

"He's going to fit in good here. He's going to like this team. The guys over here know how to give a welcome. We've never played together in the United States. We used to play together in Venezuela and I know what kind of player he is and what kind of mentality he has. It's going to be good for everybody."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.