Aspito and Thurman headline four signings

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Jason Aspito is York’s very own version of Benjamin Button.

The birthdays continue to pile up for the man who turned 30 early last month. But somehow as he ages, Aspito finds himself feeling younger and healthier — a la Brad Pitt’s character in one of the most popular films of 2008 — than he did as a 23-year-old fresh out of Loyola Marymount (Ca.).

He no longer has to deal with the lingering effects from microfracture surgery on his left knee (the same operation that threatened the careers of Amar’e Stoudemire and Greg Oden). The two other knee operations he had subsequently are in the rearview mirror.

Life as a healthy man is grand.

And it will continue in a York Revolution uniform.

The Revs announced Aspito’s return on Friday along with starting pitcher Corey Thurman. The club also announced the addition of newcomers Steve Andrade, a former major league relief pitcher, and outfielder Tommy Collaro.

Aspito pieced together the best year of his nine-year career last year (.294 average/24 home runs/105 RBIs) and emerged as one of the best all-around players in the Atlantic League.

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Who do the Revs bring back?

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The topic comes up every year when the off-season months start to fade into spring: How many players from last year’s team do the York Revolution bring back?

It’s hard to say, really. Lancaster obviously is a great example of how this situation can backfire. The ‘Stormers relied heavily on their nucleus from the 2006 championship team in ’07 and that decision eventually ended up getting manager Frank Klebe fired.

So what does York do for 2009? Under Atlantic League guidelines the Revs have until Feb. 26 to negotiate with players who finished last year on the Revolution roster. That means your Matt Dryers, Corey Thurmans, Dan Folis (pictured above) and Jason Aspitos.

After that, players are free to negotiate with other teams. But it’s very likely that we’ll see a few familiar faces re-signed before that deadline.

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Nunez leaves Revs

Heading into the first postseason in franchise history, the York Revolution will be without closer Franklin Nunez.

Nunez left the Revs Monday to return home to Tampa, Fla. to attend to a personal matter. He joined York mid-season this year after pitching with Saltillo in the Mexican League. He amassed a 2-1 record, 11 saves and a 3.98 ERA in 18 appearances with the Revolution.

Adam Gladstone, the Revolution director of baseball operations, was understanding about Nunez’s need to leave the team and while he was surprised, he does not harbor any ill feelings about the timing of the move. Gladstone said York has a number of players capable of sliding into the closer’s role — mainly former big leaguers Juan Padilla and Travis Phelps.

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Risk and Reward

Throughout the history of baseball, a general manager’s willingness to roll the dice mid-season has paid off plenty.

The Chicago Cubs’ acquisition of Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 paid huge dividends — 16 wins, a Cy Young Award and a division title to be exact. And we’ve seen what’s happened with the Milwaukee Brewers just this year. C.C. Sabathia has been incredible, posting a 1.42 ERA and a 9-0 record in 12 starts for the Brew Crew.

Then there’s the other side of the coin.

What about Cleveland dealing Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew (Bridgeport fans, please stand up) for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Lee Stevens in 2002? Or the deal that sent Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox to the Astros for Larry Andersen in 1990? Or even perhaps the worst deadline deal of them all — the Cubs trade of a 24-year-old Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio? (Had to scour the Internet for that one).

As you can see, many rolls of the dice end in snake eyes.

So while we’re talking in-season moves on the independent level with the York Revolution, you can still see how easily GMs can look like geniuses — or like idiots without a clue. And so far, Adam Gladstone, the Revs’ director of baseball operations, and manager Chris Hoiles are looking pretty clever for taking some risks and tinkering with their club.

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Tanaka will be remembered for his huge heart

Editor’s Note: This column appeared in Monday’s York Dispatch.

The brief scene unfolded inside the York Revolution’s batting cage almost five months ago in Lakeland, Fla.

Kaz Tanaka, all of 5-foot-5 and 158 pounds, strolled into the Revs’ cage at the TigerTown Complex in the wee morning hours with bat in tow. Then Matt Dryer, forever the jokester, turned and said to no one in particular what was on his mind.

“Look at his little feet,” Dryer said of Tanaka in a moment that seemed more normal than you would think. “Aren’t they cute?”

Laughter erupted. Tanaka smiled. And in that brief sequence, any onlooker would understand the relationship between Tanaka and all of his Revs’ teammates.

It’s one of respect. One of admiration. One of amazement — for a man who traveled 6,724 miles to the United States for the first time in his life knowing almost zero English to play independent baseball.

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Game 123: Long Island 2, York 1; Game 124: Long Island 7, York 6

Through all the offensive outbursts, through all the pitching gems and through all the thrilling second-half victories, one vital cog of the York Revolution has played the role of savior many times.

The bullpen.

The guys who throw the gas. The men with ice water running through their veins. They’ve been the ones shortening games and bailing the Revs out of jams for weeks. But even a dominant group has off-days. Sunday just happened to be that day.

York’s bullpen, which entered the day with a 3.04 ERA in the last 35 games, coughed up one-run leads in both games of a doubleheader against Long Island. The Ducks captured a 2-1 decision in Game 1 and a 7-6 win in the nightcap before an announced crowd of 4,795 at Sovereign Bank Stadium.

Travis Phelps, who hadn’t allowed a run in 12 appearances since an outing July 29, surrendered a two-run double in the sixth inning of Game 1. Then Franklin Nunez blew his second save in eight chances in Game 2 — allowing an RBI single in the eighth inning. Both games were scheduled for seven innings.

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Perez rejoins Revs

There’s a new addition to the York Revolution’s clubhouse these days.

Above the door to manager Chris Hoiles’ office, the pictures of every Rev to earn an affiliated contract while playing in York peer down on everyone that walks by.

There’s Tike Redman, Peter Bergeron, Jeff Farnsworth and all the rest. And of course there’s Kenny Perez, who was signed by the Colorado Rockies earlier this summer.

But there’s a serious question to ask here: If Perez earns a second affiliated deal from playing with the Revs, does he get two pictures on the wall?

York just might have to figure out the answer to that question.

The Revolution re-acquired Perez Friday afternoon mere days after his season ended in Colorado Springs (Triple-A for the Rockies). It might appear strange that Perez was granted his release — major league organizations usually hold players under contract until Oct. 15 — but the Rockies were willing to give Perez an opportunity to showcase himself to other organizations.

York placed fan-favorite outfielder Kaz Tanaka on the inactive list to make room for Perez on the 25-man active roster.

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