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Lyon wants shot as Tigers' closer

Lyon wants shot as Tigers' closer
DETROIT -- Brandon Lyon had a two-year offer on the table for almost double the nearly $5 million he received from the Detroit Tigers to join their bullpen in 2009.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Lyon also had an offer for more money for next season from another team although he agreed Saturday on a one-year deal with Detroit.

The former Arizona Diamondbacks closer and set-up man received $4.25 million with $500,000 available in performance bonuses for basically one reason.

"Brandon had an offer for probably double the money but preferred to come here for the chance to be the closer," Dombrowski said.

"These things tell me a lot about who he is," Dombrowski said, adding that he was a "bulldog" and "an outstanding makeup individual."

Dombrowski said Lyon, 3-5 with 26 saves and a 4.70 ERA last year, doesn't have the "dominant stuff" of some established closers. Lyon, 29, was at the top of his list in the next tier of relievers and came without a promise of closing. He will have to earn the opportunity to succeed retired Todd Jones as the Tigers' closer by competing against Fernando Rodney and others for the job.

"He's gambling," new Detroit pitching coach Rick Knapp said. "He's so confident in his abilities that the multi-year (contract) didn't matter. He's forsaking security for: 'I'm going to have a hell of a year.' "

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Lyon, who has played seven seasons in the majors and pitched for Toronto and Boston, was the product of Dombrowski's "persistence." He said he liked the improved veteran presence in his bullpen.

Lyon, who lost his closer role last year in Arizona to John Rauch and Chad Qualls, is 21-29 with a 4.46 ERA with 51 saves in his career. He has a fastball in the 91-92 mph range, curveball, changeup and cut fastball.

His 35 holds in 2007, while setting up Jose Valverde (who had 47 saves), were one off the major league mark of 36, shared by Tom Gordon of the 2004 New York Yankees and Scott Linebrink of the 2006 San Diego Padres.

But a desire to close has landed him in Detroit despite those superior financial offers to pitch elsewhere.

"That's a gamer," said Tigers starter Edwin Jackson, acquired last month from the Tampa Bay Rays. "That's the kind of dude you want on your team, holding the ball in his hand when it's time to close."

Williamson also signs

Right-hander Scott Williamson also agreed Saturday to a one-year minor league contract. He will be invited to the spring training camp.

Williamson has nine big league seasons under his belt. He had 21 saves in 2003 for Cincinnati, but hasn't pitched in the majors since getting into 16 games in 2007 for Baltimore. Williamson is 28-28 with a 3.36 ERA and 55 career saves.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 28, 2009

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