Ryan's Place

Friday, November 18, 2005

Helling Re-Signs for 1 Year

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com:

Instead of probing the free agent market for a guaranteed starting spot elsewhere, veteran right-hander Rick Helling signed a one-year contract with the Brewers on Friday.

The former 20-game winner inked an $850,000 contract to return to the Brewers and was among six players added to Milwaukee's 40-man roster in anticipation of next month's Rule 5 Draft.

"Milwaukee was always at the top of my list," said the 34-year-old Helling, who mulled retirement before signing a Minor League contract with the Brewers last January. "I knew going into last year that I had to prove I was healthy and I could still pitch. I think I did that. Now it's nice to sign back."

Also added to the roster: Shortstop Zach Sorensen, who was claimed off waivers from the Angels, plus infielder Hernan Iribarren, outfielder Tony Gywnn, Jr., and pitchers Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva.

Helling's contract includes incentives based on a point system that rewards him whether he lands in the bullpen or the starting rotation. He excelled in both roles during the second half of 2005, but said of his discussions with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, "most of the talk was about me being in the rotation."

"Obviously, at this time of year, you can't guarantee anything," Helling said. "I think they were happy with the way I pitched in the starting role last year, but I think I also showed I could pitch in relief. Maybe it will be a situation where I start the year in the rotation and then move to the bullpen. At this point you just don't know.

"I felt some loyalty. [The Brewers] gave me a chance last year when they really didn't have to."

Coming off an injury-marred 2004 season, Helling pitched the first half of 2005 for Triple-A Nashville and earned a promotion on July 26. He went 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA down the stretch, posting a 3.52 ERA in eight relief appearances and a 2.18 ERA in seven starts, including a 1.69 ERA in six September outings.


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