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Series saver Robertson gets Phils second chance in 3 years | WGN 720 Radio

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — David Robertson retired from the mound after Miguel Rojas resigned from Miami in April 2019. He wasn’t going to pitch another major league inning for nearly 2 1/2 years.

He was a big bust, his elbow less than a month into a two-year, $23 million contract with the Phillies. One surgery, a trip to Japan and three teams later, he’s putting those high socks on the World Series mound, shutting out Philadelphia at age 37.

“Very happy to be here in Philly,” he said. “I felt that my first lap here didn’t go well for me or the team. I blew up seven games and was never able to show what I could do, if I could help the club.”

Robertson smiled as his teammates exchanged slaps after Friday night’s game. Robertson got the save for getting the final three outs in the 6-5, 10-inning victory, leaving Aledmis Diaz in the game, but only after allowing runners on second and third. He lived up to the nickname “Houdini” he earned with the New York Yankees, where he replaced Mariano Rivera as the closer.

“He had a tendency to get into trouble and then get out of it,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson, the Yankees’ manager from 2008-2017. “But he is like that. He has a very calm demeanor and slow heart rate, and he carries that throughout the bullpen, so he helps a lot of the young guys. A lot of guys are going through trouble, he can help them.”

A Birmingham native who attended the University of Alabama, Robertson was drafted by the Yankees in the 17th round of the 2006 amateur draft and made the big leagues two years later. In 2009, he served as middle reliever during the title run, picking up wins in the Division Series and the League Championship Series, as well as a pair of scoreless innings against the Phillies in the World Series as the Yankees won the title.

Robertson didn’t return to the series until this year.

“I feel like a real part of the team,” he said. “In 2009, it was my second year in the league and there were so many superstars on that team that I just tried to stay in the background and enjoy it, but I don’t remember a lot of it.”

In his 14th season in the big leagues, Robertson had 57 wins and 157 saves. In 2011, he became a late-inning starter to earn his only trip to the All-Star Game, was promoted to first base coach in 2012 and then closer when Rivera retired after the 2013 season. After one year in that role, Robertson signed a $46 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

He was returned to the Yankees in July 2017. Even on a famous team, he was relatively anonymous away from the ballpark, riding the subway to Yankee Stadium in a hoodie.

When his contract expired, he became a free agent again and signed with the Phillies. After sitting out 2 1/2 weeks of the season with what was initially diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain, Robertson underwent surgery on Aug. 15 at Dr. James Andrews.

“I definitely had a rough road after that injury. Mine was a little more complicated than just Tommy John. I also had a flexor repair done,” Robertson said. “So my schedule was a lot longer than most people’s. I was 34 when I had the surgery, so it took me a while to come back. In my opinion, it wasn’t done, I just needed enough time to get my elbow right to be able to make the pitch.”

He spent most of 2020 rehabbing and was shut down after a setback in August. Out of contract with the Phillies, he promised USA Baseball executive director Paul Seiler that he would play for the US Olympic team under Mike Shioshia. Robertson made two saves as the Americans won the silver medal.

“It was so hot there. And even from Alabama, I haven’t felt the humidity there in a long time,” Robertson said. “You play in 100 degree heat with 100% humidity on AstroTurf and the game was so fast. They sped it up faster than I’ve ever seen. And no fans on the seats to hear everything.”

He signed with Tampa Bay just over a week after the Olympics, made six appearances for Triple-A Durham and returned to the majors on September 1, 2021. He played 12 regular season games and three in the division series. He then signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Chicago Cubs in January that would have earned him another $1.6 million in bonuses.

Betters had just one hit in the first 34 at-bats against him this season. With Chicago out of contention, the Phillies acquired him at the August 2 trade deadline for minor league right-hander Ben Brown.

“He was one of the best pitchers in baseball at that point,” said Dave Dombrowski, the Phillies’ president of baseball operations. “He’s performing at important times in a big market. So we thought if we were going to sign someone who could perform at the back end of the game, he would feel very comfortable doing that.”

Robertson had six saves in nine appearances with a 2.70 ERA for the Phillies and finished the season with 20 saves in 28 appearances and a .173 batting average to go along with a 2.40 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He averaged 93 mph with his cutter, which was close to his pre-surgery peak.

He then opened the playoffs with a win with a perfect eighth inning against St. Louis in the Wild Card series opener. He missed the division series after injuring his right calf while jumping to celebrate Bryce Harper’s home run in the clinching victory over the Cardinals.

It took Robertson 13 years to get back on baseball’s biggest stage, and he’s relishing the moment.

“Pretty good adrenaline rush,” he said the day after saving the streak. “It turned into a tough inning there, but it’s always tough to get the last three outs.”

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