It appears as if Andrew Carpenter's stay with the Phillies will be a short one. The right hander, called up to serve as the long man in the bullpen on Opening Day, is likely headed back to the rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley now that the Phillies have claimed veteran righthander Nelson Figueroa off waivers from the Mets. Carpenter appears to be the next man standing should the Phillies need a starting pitcher, so getting him back on a once-every-five-days schedule makes sense. Figueroa, meanwhile, will join a bullpen that is already laden with former starters. And while he struggled at times with his command over the last couple of seasons with the Mets, he'll bolster the experience in the Phillies bullpen while also providing some much-needed depth for the rotation.
The Phillies had been searching for a player to provide depth, much like Rodrigo Lopez did last season. At the very least, Figueroa would seem to be a fortunate find to fill this role.
If Figueroa sounds or looks familiar, there is a good reason. The 35-year-old was part of the Curt Schilling trade back in July of 2000, when the Phillies acquired him, first baseman Travis Lee and righthanders Vicente Padilla and Omar Daal in exchange for their disgruntled ace. Figueroa went 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 19 games, 13 of them starts, for the Phillies in 2001. He did not make the team the following season, and was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers. Figueroa pitched for the Brewers in 2002 and the Pirates in 2003 and 2004 before undergoing shoulder surgery to repair his labrum and rotator cuff in October of 2004. He missed all of 2005, pitched briefly in independent ball in 2006, and then joined resuscitated his career in the Mexican League in 2007.
Figueroa resurfaced in the majors in 2008, when he signed with the Mets as a minor league free agent. Over the last two seasons, he went 6-11 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.539 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 in 16 starts and 16 relief appearances.