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Braves bolster bullpen with Sturtze

Braves bolster bullpen with Sturtze

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Based on recent history, Braves general manager John Schuerholz has something much more exciting in store. But with Sunday's signing of Tanyon Sturtze, Schuerholz at least made a move that could definitely prove beneficial in his attempt to provide stability to his shaky bullpen.

Schuerholz came to this year's Winter Meetings determined to strengthen his pitching staff, and shortly after arriving at Walt Disney World, he announced that the Braves had come to terms on a one-year deal with Sturtze.

Because he had rotator cuff surgery on May 23, Sturtze isn't expected to be available for the first month of the 2007 season. But if he proves to be healthy, the 36-year-old right-hander could certainly prove to be a reliable setup man for closer Bob Wickman.

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Sturtze, whose Major League career began with the Cubs in 1995, entered this past season with high expectations. While with the Yankees during the 2005 season, he made a career-high 64 appearances, posted a 4.73 ERA and held opponents to a .257 batting average.

After encountering some struggles in the first 18 appearances he made with the Yankees this year, Sturtze was placed on the disabled list and soon after underwent the season-ending surgical procedure.

Sturtze combined to make 60 starts for the Devil Rays during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. But since suffering a Major League-high 18 losses in 2002, he's primarily been used as a reliever. He made three starts for the Yankees in 2004 and one more in 2005.

Sturtze's contract comes with a $750,000 base salary. If he's placed on the 25-man roster, he'll receive an additional $350,000. Appearance-based incentives could earn him an additional $450,000.

Schuerholz is expected to evaluate the trade market to further strengthen his bullpen. During the Winter Meetings the past three years, he's made significant deals that have brought J.D. Drew, Dan Kolb and Edgar Renteria to Atlanta.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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