Plesac Interested In Staying on in Philadelphia

With the Phillies bullpen needing to be reassembled, there is hope that one of the stronger points of the 2003 pen might be willing to return. Dan Plesac, wasn't sure that the wanted to pitch in 2003, but now, he has at least opened the door a little to one more "final" season in the majors and he might like it to be in Philadelphia where he enjoyed pitching last season.

As the Phillies bullpen is constructed right now, Dan Plesac is far and away the all-time saves leader of the staff. That's not to say that he would be considered as the Phillies answer at closer, or that he would want to be considered for that role, but he certainly has longevity and a solid past to his credit.

After coming over to the Phillies in a deal with Toronto in 2002, Plesac was assumed to be closing out his career. With the Phillies signing of Jim Thome and David Bell and the arrival of pitcher Kevin Millwood, Plesac saw that the Phillies might have a good shot at getting him one last chance at pitching in the postseason. With that in mind, the left-handed relief specialist signed with the Phillies and came back for one more season. Throughout the 2003 campaign, it was assumed that Plesac was just there for this one season and that he would retire at the end of 2003.

Plesac showed that he still had some gas in the tank. He finished the season with a 2.70 ERA, working in 58 games for the Phillies. At the age of 41, opposing hitters – mainly left-handers – hit just .228 against him. Both Plesac and the Phillies were comfortable in the role that the 18 year veteran was able to play. In his 58 games, he worked a total of 33.1 innings. Plesac's established role was to get left-handers out and only occasionally did he do any more than that. After he completed his assignment, Plesac's other bullpen mates picked up from there and the veteran became a spectator on the Phillies bench. It was all the Phillies looked for from Plesac and it was all he really wanted to do. After all, even if Plesac's outings were relatively short, his impact on the bullpen was huge.

As the end of the 2003 season grew closer and closer, Plesac didn't always talk in definite terms about his impending retirement. By the time that Veterans Stadium saw its last Phillies game, Plesac noted that he had some thinking to do and that he would basically let the Phillies know if he wanted to continue with his career. He certainly seemed like a man that was leaning toward a rocking chair, but he also seemed like a man who would be more than a little interested in returning to Philadelphia if he decided to continue with his career.

Now, with the postseason a month old, Plesac has taken time to reflect and to consider his future. The door to continuing his major league career has opened and the Phillies are waiting beyond that door. Phillies GM Ed Wade has had some preliminary discussions with Plesac's agent, Tom Selakovich, about bringing Plesac back to the Phillies bullpen in 2004.

Both sides are interested. The Phillies figure on having just Rheal Cormier and Carlos Silva as guaranteed returnees to a bullpen that grew weak with overuse in 2003. The readdition of Plessac would make the bullpen stronger. As for Plesac, he is still chasing a postseason dream and believes that the Phillies may be able to make that dream a reality. He has also enjoyed his tenure in Philadelphia and with the new ballpark set to open in 2004, Plesac believes Philadelphia might be a good place to call home.

Plesac started his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1986 saving 14 games. In a five year span with the Brewers, Plesac saved 124 games. Since 1991, however, Plesac has saved just a total of 34 games for the Cubs, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Phillies. Plesac's Phillies career includes a grand total of three saves.

The Phillies hope to sign Plesac before other teams can start negotiating with him on November 10th. As what he hopes will be a formality, Plesac has filed for free agency, but the Phillies have a window to negotiate with him before he hits the open market. Wade is using that window to try to work out a deal that would have Plesac finish his career – whenever that happens – in Philadelphia.

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