Just got off the phone with Derrick Turnbow, who says he's ready to follow in the footsteps of Armando Benitez, Todd Jones and Joe Borowski, relievers who found new life with the Marlins after their careers had hit the skids.
"I'm looking to do the same thing," Turnbow said. "If I have a good spring and answer the questions, I hope to get my major league career back on track again."
Turnbow, who was signed by the Marlins on Friday to a minor league contract, has come to the right place. The Marlins are miracle workers when it comes to resurrecting the careers of closers. Nobody does it better, and Turnbow is a classic case for them.
He enjoyed early fame and fortune with the Brewers, went into a tailspin, and hit rock bottom last May when he walked away from the sport -- just got up and quit -- returned home to Tennessee, and tried to get his head straight.
"Mentally I was just drained," Turnbow said of his final days at Triple A Oklahoma City last April. "I couldn't take it anymore. I needed time to get my head clear, time to reflect on what happened and why it happened, and also to give my body a rest."
Turnbow didn't touch a baseball from May Day to Labor Day. He didn't seek outside advice from pitching coaches or others in the sport.
"It had gotten to a point where I basically had lost my way," Turnbow said of his loss of confidence as a pitcher. "I tried anything and everything in the world, talked to a million people. My stuff was always pretty good. My talent was always good enough. But I had to kind of get away from everyone and figure it out on my own."
Turnbow worked out last month for more than half a dozen teams. They were there to see if the Turnbow of old, the one who saved 39 games for the Brewers in 2005, had found himself again. The reports were strong. Scouts clocked his fastball in the mid-90s and indicated his slider looked sharp.
A number of teams contacted Turnbow's agent, Damon Lapa, about signing the right-hander. But Lapa said that even though other clubs offered more money than the Marlins, who will pay him $600,000 in base pay if he makes the big-league club, Turnbow chose the team with the reputation for salvaging careers.
Turnbow might have a better opportunity of reclaiming his closer's role with the Marlins. That job is presently held by Leo Nunez. But he is inexperienced in the role and the Marlins need a fallback plan if he doesn't work out.
"I looked at the history of the guys who had been there and been able to rejuvenate their careers," Turnbow said. "And now, I'm back to the point where I believe in myself again."