Nelson Figueroa did not spew venom against his former employer Wednesday night. But on the day the Philadelphia Phillies were awarded a waiver claim on the 35-year-old right-hander, he made this much clear: Had he gone unclaimed, Figueroa definitely would have exercised his right to become a free agent rather than report to the Mets’ Triple-A Buffalo affiliate.
“I wasn’t planning on staying,” Figueroa said by telephone before boarding a redeye from Arizona to join the Phillies in Washington for Thursday afternoon’s series finale at Nationals Park.
Figueroa had gone unclaimed through waivers six previous times in his career, so he wasn’t overly optimistic about getting claimed.
“I think this is the best-case scenario going to a division champion,” Figueroa said. “I was at rock bottom three days ago. Now I’ll have an opportunity to do some good things with a very, very good team.”
Figueroa had felt unappreciated as a Met -- “especially spring training when the opportunity got taken away and I was pitching against college teams and in B games,” he said.
Said Figueroa: “I felt like I pitched my way onto the team. … I felt like I couldn’t really show more than I had shown.”
Figueroa’s stay at the major-league level with the Phillies could be short-lived. At some point, Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton and J.C. Romero will return to the active roster.
"I think we definitely wanted to make sure we build up our pitching,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told the team’s web site. “We don't have a lot of options, especially if guys get hurt. We definitely need some inventory. He can pitch. He's very serviceable."