Ziegler breaks team record for most relief appearances

Ziegler breaks team record for most relief appearances

PHOENIX -- Sitting in front of his locker prior to Saturday's game, reliever Brad Ziegler knew he was poised to break a D-backs club record: His 254th appearance would be the most for a reliever in the history of a team that dates back to only 1998.

"I'd like to pitch tonight and kind of get it over with so there's no more attention paid to it," Ziegler said. "To me it's just a longevity thing."

Put it in the record book. Ziegler replaced Rubby De La Rosa at the start of the eighth inning in a game the D-backs would eventually lose to the Pirates, 2-1, at Chase Field.

The score was tied 1-1 at the time and just like many of his previous 253 appearances, this one was uneventful as Ziegler retired the side in order on 13 pitches. Ziegler tied Jose Valverde's record in Arizona's 4-1 loss on Friday night.

Valverde set the appearance mark from 2003-07 when he mostly closed for the D-backs and saved 98 games, also the team record in that category.

Ziegler was obtained from the A's in a July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal in 2011 and with the D-backs he has remained. Had he not missed the last month of the 2014 season after microsurgery on his left knee this past Sept. 9, the aforementioned mark would have been surpassed months and months ago.

"The big thing for me is that there haven't been that many middle relievers who have been with one team long enough to set that kind of record," Ziegler said. "Sometimes closers stay with teams a long time. Middle relievers usually just get shipped around. I'd never have guessed they'd want to keep me for four years. It's nice to be wanted."

Ziegler mostly has been the eighth-inning setup guy, but he's also been flexible for the D-backs, which probably explains his longevity. Two years ago after an injury to incumbent closer and now retired J.J. Putz, Ziegler saved 13 games in 15 opportunities and amply filled that slot. But the D-backs acquired Addison Reed after the 2013 season and Ziegler was back to setting up again. No matter.

"I'll pitch the sixth inning, the fourth inning, the ninth inning, I don't care," said the side-arming Ziegler, whose motion produces so many grounders that he's essentially a double-play machine. "I like to have an idea before the game starts of when they might use me, but that's about it."

In the case of the 35-year-old Ziegler, the D-backs have obviously used him a lot.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.