El Pulpo Un Bravo

In another step toward reshaping their bullpen, the Braves signed <B>Antonio Alfonseca</B> to a one year deal. Alfonseca, who had a rocky season with the Cubs in 2003 (5.83 ERA in 60 appearances), will take over as primary setup man for John Smoltz.

The Atlanta Braves, who have seen their pitching staff undergo a transformation this offseason, Friday signed free agent reliever Antonio Alfonseca to a one-year contract.

The deal is reportedly worth $1.35 million and could reach $2 million in incentives based upon appearances.

Alfonseca, 31, was 3-1 with a 5.83 ERA in 60 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2003. It was his second season in Chicago after spending his first five years with Florida, where he was a member of the 1997 World Series champions.

Alfonseca was born with six fingers and toes on each hand and foot, an oddity that led his teammates to nickname him "Pulpo" -- Spanish for octopus.

Alfonseca isn't the prototypical closer, in that he usually has relatively high hit totals and low strikeout numbers (he relies more on the sinking motion of his fastball and slider to produce ground-ball outs). Alfonseca led the National League with 45 saves in 2000, blowing just four chances while posting a 5-6 record with a 4.24 ERA.

The righthander has a lifetime record of 23-30 with a 4.11 ERA and 121 saves in 400 appearances.

Atlanta Dugout Top Stories