Nelson finds Mariners changed from '95
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Jeff Nelson finds himself in a Seattle Mariner bullpen very different from the one he left in 1995.
This Mariners team figures to have a strong relief staff, maybe one of the better bullpens in the American League. The '95 team often struggled to hold leads.
"Playing here in the early '90s, we had one or two guys in the bullpen'' to count on,'' Nelson said. "Last year, they had a great bullpen and I'm just adding to it.''
Nelson, who left the New York Yankees in December to sign a three-year deal with Seattle, is again feeling the need to prove his worth. It's the same feeling he had when Seattle dealt him to New York five years ago.
"It's like once you leave is when you get appreciated,'' Nelson said.
That doesn't mean that he didn't enjoy his five years in New York where he won four World Series rings.
"But in a way ... in a very small way, I wanted to leave and have them really know what they're going to miss,'' said Nelson, who was 8-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 73 appearances last season.
When the Yankees failed to move on an initial three-year, $9 million offer, Nelson signed for $10.65 million with Seattle, with performance incentives that could add $1 million each year.
"Not to say, 'Hey, I'm leaving because you never really appreciated me.' I just wanted to come here and win, help this team win a ring. But at the same time I wanted to say, 'Hey, what do you have now?'''
He said Seattle missed him after he got traded to New York.
"And I think it's going to be the same thing in New York. They're going to realize that they miss me, and how important I was down there.''
Nelson lives just southeast of Seattle, so signing with the Marinbers was a double-barreled homecoming.
"I love being here, this is my first choice,'' he said. "I wanted to come and play for the Mariners and the whole winter I was hoping they wanted me as bad.''