Rockies sign a retread for back of the ’pen

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press file photo

LaTroy Hawkins played an integral role in the bullpen for Colorado in 2007, when the Rockies made their only run to the World Series before being swept by the Boston Red Sox. In 2014, the right-handed reliever once again is expected to play a part in the back end of the bullpen.

By Pat Graham
AP Sports Writer

DENVER

LaTroy Hawkins is returning to the Colorado Rockies, and the veteran reliever may just possibly wind up as their closer.

Hawkins agreed to a one-year, $2.5-million deal Tuesday, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced and still is pending a physical.

The right-hander played an integral role in the bullpen for Colorado in 2007, when the Rockies made their only run to the World Series before being swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Hawkins, who will turn 41 in December, will be in contention for the closer role with left-hander Rex Brothers, who stepped in last season after Rafael Betancourt got hurt and finished with 19 saves. The Rockies also like the hard-throwing Brothers as a set-up man in the eighth inning.

Hawkins spent last season with the New York Mets, going 3-2 with a 2.93 earned-run average and 13 saves in 70 2/3 innings.

The Mets tried to keep him and made an offer.

“We’re happy for him. He did a great job for us last year – was a terrific part of the team, in the clubhouse, as well as his role on the field,” Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson said. “We wish him well.

“He’s 41 years old. We weren’t necessarily counting on him to fill the same role for us next year. We certainly would have liked to have him in the pen, but going into the spring, I think that, again, given kind of the vagaries of relief pitching anyway and his age and what we had coming, it wasn’t clear what his role would be.”

USA Today first reported the agreement.

On his Twitter account Tuesday, Hawkins posted a thank you to the Mets’ fans and organization. He closed his tweet with, “Now off to BowHunting.”

Earlier this month, the Rockies took a big step toward keeping their bullpen intact as right-handed reliever Matt Belisle and the team exercised their mutual option for 2014. The bullpen had a 4.23 ERA in 2012.

Colorado also exercised the club option on left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, who was solid on the mound last season as he finished 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA. De La Rosa is scheduled to make $11 million next year.

The Rockies are coming off a season in which they finished last in the NL West with a 74-88 record.

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