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Rangers hound Oliver until he signs

Veteran left-hander returns home to be part of deep bullpen

12/22/09 7:45 PM EST

ARLINGTON -- Darren Oliver received a new contract on Tuesday. His two sons, Brock and Maxwell, are getting a new dog.

"I told my kids if I played at home, we'll get them a dog," Oliver said.

Oliver still makes his home in the Colleyville-Grapevine area, just north of Arlington. For the past three years, he had been pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"We couldn't have a dog when I playing in Anaheim," Oliver said. "It was just too tough."

Oliver is pitching at home again after agreeing to a one-year contract with the Rangers worth $3 million with a club option of $3.25 million for 2011. The option vests if Oliver pitches in 59 games. There is a $500,000 buyout if the option is not picked up.

"He certainly makes our bullpen look much better," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "There's no doubt we've got another winning piece for late in the game. He'll take the pressure off C.J. Wilson and help keep him stronger. In fact, he'll help keep a lot of guys stronger because he can get both right-handers and left-handers out. I can use him for a couple of innings."

The Rangers officially announced the deal on Tuesday after Oliver passed his physical. Oliver celebrated by taking his two sons to the mall to go Christmas shopping for his wife, Melissa.

Oliver will be in his third tour of duty for the Rangers. He was their third-round pick in the 1988 and pitched for the Rangers in 1993-98 and again in 2000-01.

"It's good," Oliver said. "Those guys pursued me pretty good. They put the full-court press on me. It worked out well."

Oliver was 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 63 games and 73 innings as a setup reliever for the Angels in 2009 and 15-3 with a 3.10 ERA for them over the past three seasons. His 3.21 ERA over the past four seasons -- including 2006 with the Mets -- is the 13th best among 43 left-handed relievers with at least 123 innings pitched.

Oliver will join a bullpen that currently consists of right-hander Frank Francisco as the closer with Wilson as the left-handed setup reliever and Darren O'Day, Chris Ray and Neftali Feliz as the right-handed setup relievers.

"I'm sure I'll be doing the same things I have the past few years," Oliver said. "It looks like it will be a good fit."

The Rangers have discussed the possibility of Feliz and/or Wilson moving into rotation, but general manager Jon Daniels said the club's main goal this offseason was compile as much depth as possible and sort it out in Spring Training.

"Anything we can do for a bullpen is good, especially with our young pitchers," Washington said.

Washington is hoping to have two left-handed relievers in the bullpen. Eddie Guardado was the Rangers' second left-hander this past season but is now a free agent. The Rangers this winter acquired left-handers Clay Rapada from the Tigers and Ben Snyder from the Orioles, and added rookies Michael Kirkman and Zach Phillips to the 40-man roster.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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