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Red Sox sign former closer Mantei

The Red Sox signed free agent right-handed pitcher Matt Mantei to a one-year deal today for $750,000, ESPN’s Peter Gammons reported. The 31-year-old reliever was 0-3 with an 11.81 ERA in 12 appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year in limited action due to a shoulder injury. CBS-4 said that the deal will be finalized tonight pending the results of Mantei's physical in Boston.

Mantei has long been injury-prone, battling elbow problems for the past three years. Last May, he was placed on the disabled list with tendonitis in his pitching shoulder after losing the closer’s job, and never returned.

When healthy, Mantei was known as a hard thrower with a 96 mile-per-hour fastball. After recording a career-high 32 saves in 1999 and following that with 17 in 2000 and 29 in 2003, Mantei converted just four of seven opportunities in 2004 before being shelved with tendonitis in his right shoulder.

Red Sox ace Curt Schilling pitched on the same staff as Mantei in Arizona from 2000-2003, and praised the Sox acquisition of Mantei in an e-mail exchange with the Boston Dirt Dogs.

“[He’s a] fantastic teammate, hard worker, good guy,” Schilling wrote. “He will definitely shorten the game from a bullpen standpoint, which is huge. [If] he feels good, this could be every bit as lethal a bullpen as anyone else's with Mantei, [Mike] Timlin, [Alan] Embree for seven and eight, and Foulke for nine. It puts a huge amount of pressure on opposing teams to be ahead by the seventh. Now you put a rotation that can pitch innings in front of that pen and it gets better.” 

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