The Associated Press
PEORIA, Ariz. - Forget for a minute that Jesse Orosco is the oldest player in the major leagues and has been pitching professionally since Jimmy Carter was president.The San Diego Padres can use his help.
Playing in a division loaded with some of baseball's best left-handed hitters, the Padres signed the lefty reliever to an $800,000 contract.
This will be Orosco's 24th big-league season, and the Padres are his seventh team. He'll turn 46 on April 21, and he's more than twice as old as Padres starters Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez.
And he has no intention of going away anytime soon.
"It's something I enjoy doing," Orosco said. "My arm is very healthy right now. I'm going to keep going until you know, they just say, `Jesse, you don't have it anymore.' "
The Padres, coming off a 96-loss season, hope Orosco still has it this season. He made 56 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, going 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and one save.
"We're looking at him coming in late in the game with the lead or a tie ballgame, and Todd Helton and Larry Walker coming up back to back, and you have him there," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "Barry Bonds comes up, you have him there. Shawn Green comes up, you have an experienced guy who's been able to do it."
Bonds has feasted on Padres' pitching. Of his 119 homers the last two seasons, Bonds has hit 18 against San Diego.
But Orosco has limited Bonds to two homers and a .160 average (4-for-25), with nine strikeouts and two walks in 27 career matchups.
"If my situation is to face Bonds and Helton and Walker and Green and all those guys, I've got to get them out or I'm not going to last," Orosco said.
Orosco is 85-78 with 142 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 23 big-league seasons. He's baseball's all-time leader with 1,187 games pitched and 1,183 relief appearances.
He and Padres manager Bruce Bochy were batterymates in the Mets organization in 1981-82, and Orosco went on to win World Series rings with New York in 1986 and Los Angeles in 1988.
Orosco has kept himself in good shape; he's been on the disabled list only four times, although all have come in the last three seasons.
"I care about what I have to do on the field so I always prepare myself to make the best go at it year in, year out," Orosco said.
Orosco has lived in the San Diego suburb of Poway for 15 years and has been trying to join the Padres for nearly 10 years.
"As much traveling as I've done throughout my career, this is kind of a breather for me," he said. "It's going to be much easier. I couldn't be any happier now. I'm glad that I'm still feeling good about playing ball and I feel I'm still throwing the ball well. I think I can bring a lot to the ballclub."
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