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February 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

David Aardsma looking forward to returning to Seattle — in a Yankees uniform

aardsma.jpg
David Aardsma established himself as a major league closer with the Mariners in 2009 and 2010, but it’s been a tough go for him ever since. He didn’t pitch all of last year and won’t start throwing again until July after undergoing Tommy John ligament transplant surgery in his right elbow last summer.
But now, Aardsma knows who he’ll be pitching for.
He signed a $500,000, incentive-laden major league contract today with the New York Yankees. There is also an option for 2013, paying the same $500,000 base with similar incentives based on innings pitched, games finished and other stuff.
“The Yankees were very pro-active,” Aardsma told me by phone a short while ago. “When they wanted to get the deal done, they got it done.”
Photo Credit: AP


Aardsma said the Mariners contacted him early on in the process. They declined to tender him a deal late last year, effectively making him a free agent.
“Right out of the gate, they said ‘We’d like you to stick around, but a big league deal would be tough for us at this time’,” Aardsma said.
Most teams are reluctant to offer big league deals to players with little chance of pitching in a given season. So, when the Yankees dangled one, Aardsma seized the opportunity.
Still, he relished his time in Seattle and looks forward to coming back and pitching at Safeco Field again, albeit in Yankees colors.
“I’ve always said this, but Jack Zduriencik gave me a chance to come in and prove myself,” Aardsma said. “He stood behind me, with Wak (manager Don Wakamatsu) and said ‘You have the stuff, you just have to believe in yourself.’ ”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters this morning that he isn’t expecting a big contribution from Aardsma in 2012, but looks forward to knowing he’s in the mix for 2013. There is talk this could be closer Mariano Rivera’s final season in New York, which would leave a gaping hole at the back of the Yankees’ bullpen and open up some major opportunities for other relievers.
Aardsma said the Yankees never mentioned Rivera to him. But he’s looking forward to a shot at getting back on a mound.
“The way this deal is stuctured, if I don’t pitch, it doesn’t really cost them anything,” he said. “But if I do get back out there, I have the chance to make some pretty good money for me and my family. So, it’s a win-win situation.”

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