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Tuesday, November 19
Updated: November 20, 9:41 AM ET
Left-hander Orosco gets one-year, $800K deal

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Left-handed reliever Jesse Orosco, who turns 46 on April 21, agreed to a $800,000, one-year contract Tuesday with the San Diego Padres, who added him to their 40-man roster.

''I didn't think I'd be able to throw this long,'' said Orosco, who'll be entering his 24th big league season, spread over four decades. ''Things have worked out great and I'm going to get myself well-prepared to try to reach back and do this for another year or so.''

Orosco's agent, Alan Meersand, joked that he and Orosco's wife were going to push him to pitch until he's 50.

''I used to laugh about it five years ago, but now I'm starting to believe him,'' said Orosco, who's the oldest player in the majors and the all-time leader in games pitched at 1,187.

Orosco, who lives in the San Diego suburb of Poway, became the first of the 157 major league free agents to sign.

The Padres also agreed to a one-year, $750,000 deal with right-hander Francisco Cordova, who last appeared in the major leagues in 2000.

It's rare that a player Orosco's age gets a guaranteed contract and a spot on the 40-man roster. They usually sign a minor league deal, with an invitation to spring training.

Orosco underwent elbow surgery in 2000, and signed minor league deals with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001 and 2002.

''I know I'm going to be 46, but I pitched very well for the Dodgers in 2001 and even better in 2002, and I felt I didn't deserve a minor league contract,'' Orosco said.

The Padres like Orosco for his durability and because he has good career numbers against division rivals Barry Bonds and Larry Walker, both left-handers.

''I love his experience,'' GM Kevin Towers said. ''He's been healthy, and what we get is a guy who can come in and face a couple of left-handers and hand the ball to someone else.''

Said Orosco: ''I'm proof that if a lefty goes out there and faces one lefty, it's a very important role. That was my role in L.A. Basically that's what I was there for, to face those kind of guys.''

Orosco made 56 relief appearances for the Dodgers last season, going 1-2 with one save and a 3.00 ERA.

Orosco made his big league debut in 1979 with the New York Mets. He and Padres manager Bruce Bochy were minor league teammates in 1981 and with the Mets in 1982.

Orosco is 85-78 with 142 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 23 big league seasons. He's been on the disabled list only four times, although all have come in the last three seasons.

San Diego is Orosco's seventh big league team, including the Mets (1979, 81-87), Los Angeles (1988, 2001-02), Cleveland (1989-91), Milwaukee (1992-94), Baltimore (1995-99) and St. Louis (2000).

Orosco won World Series rings with the Mets in 1986 and the Dodgers in 1988. He was an All-Star in 1983-84.

Cordova, 30, missed the 2002 season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on Sept. 6, 2001. He was in the minors in 2001, after going 6-8 with a 5.21 ERA for Pittsburgh in 2000.

Pittsburgh's Opening Day starter in 1998 and 1999, Cordova is 42-47 lifetime with a 3.96 ERA.

The Padres also purchased the contracts of right-handed pitcher Michael Nicolas, left-hander Cory Stewart, infielder Bernie Castro and outfielders Jay Bay and Vince Faison and added them to the 40-man roster.

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