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D-backs pick up closer Putz's option for 2013

PHOENIX -- As expected, the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday picked up the 2013 contract option of closer J.J. Putz.

"It was just a matter of time," D-backs executive vice president and general manager Kevin Towers said of the decision. "I think you all knew that eventually this would take place, based on the way J.J. has pitched for us the last couple of years.

"For us, it's really a no-brainer. [Putz is] truly a leader of our bullpen, one of the better closers in the National League. [He is] a big part of our ballclub -- setting the chemistry and make-up of our ballclub."

Putz will make $6.5 million in the final season of a two-year deal plus an option that he signed in December 2010. Had the D-backs not picked up the option, they would have owed the right-hander a $1.5 million buyout.

"I'm ecstatic about coming back," Putz said. "It's something I was hoping for. When I got the call from [Towers], I was very relieved and very excited. We've got a lot of unfinished business to take care of here and I'm looking forward to getting back into Spring Training and around the guys."

Putz was 32-for-37 in save opportunities this past season while compiling a 2.82 ERA. In 2011, he saved 45 games and had a 2.17 ERA.

While experimenting with a cut fastball in Spring Training and the beginning of the season, Putz compiled ERAs of 4.70 and 7.71 in April and May. After scrapping the pitch and tweaking his mechanics, he had a 2.25 mark in June and did not allow a run in either July or August.

Putz, 35, and his family make their home in the Phoenix area and he has said often that he would like to finish his career with the D-backs. Judging by Towers' comments Saturday, that sounds like a real possibility.

"I told J.J. [Friday] ... that I don't look at this short-term," Towers said. "I believe in continuity, and it's hard to find those guys that are consistent at the back end. And for us to be successful going forward in developing our young pitching, you've got to have that guy to record those last three outs. This is just kind of the first step. I hope he finishes his career in a Diamondbacks uniform."

Towers said conversations with Putz on a longer-term deal likely would happen, but Towers did not want to put a timeframe on when those might occur.

Towers has been regarded as a good builder of bullpens throughout his long career as a GM, and Towers has a superstition he follows with his closers that started when he was in San Diego and Trevor Hoffman was closing games for the Padres.

When Hoffman entered games, Towers would refuse to watch it in person and instead would go somewhere to watch on television. Towers does the same thing when Putz's entrance music "Thunderstruck" comes on at Chase Field.

"I can't say that I've seen him much," Towers joked of Putz. "When the music comes, on I'm usually in the elevator on my way down."

Towers takes the elevator down to the D-backs' clubhouse, where he watches in the office of equipment manager Roger Riley.

Arizona Diamondbacks, J.J. Putz