A's Close to Inking Reliever

The Oakland Athletics were close to finalizing a one-year contract with reliever Russ Springer on Monday, with an announcement likely in the coming days.

The 40-year-old Springer still needed to undergo a physical, a formality and final step to making things official after the sides already reached a preliminary agreement.

The right-hander is a 16-year major league veteran who pitched the last two seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals and has spent the majority of his career in the National League. He went 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 70 appearances and 50 1-3 innings in 2008.

A's general manager Billy Beane and manager Bob Geren have been focused on boosting their bullpen this winter after already working to upgrade their offense with the additions of outfielder Matt Holliday and first baseman and designated hitter Jason Giambi.

Springer has made 70 or more outings in each of the past three seasons. He is likely to be a setup man in Oakland's bullpen, with Beane already having said he plans to use Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine both in the closer role in 2009.

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