MINNEAPOLIS -- Beyond all the old man jokes on social media and in the clubhouse, the Cleveland Indians have a deep respect for 38-year-old reliever Scott Atchison.
Respect doesn't pay the bills, though. On Tuesday, the Indians made sure to show their gratitude with a new one-year contract for Atchison with a club option for 2016.
Atchison has been a valuable member of the Indians bullpen this season, going 6-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 54 games. The six victories are second among all American League relievers. His splits against both righties and lefties make him extremely useful for manager Terry Francona.
"It's allowed us to really put guys where we think they can get people out," Francona said. "And then we have guys that complement (each other), so if we have baserunners, we can go get them."
Francona said having the veteran Atchison has been invaluable for the other members of the bullpen as well. Despite being 38, Atchison has appeared in only 258 major league games, but his experience in the minors as well as overseas allows him to be a sounding board for the younger pitchers.
"The guys look up to him. He's just a really good influence, and he gets people out," Francona said. "He's been pitching for so long. He may not have the most time in the big leagues, but he's been to Japan, he's been up and down, he's been through it all. He's always had a really good attitude. I think our guys are smart enough to listen."
Atchison takes the good-natured ribbing from teammates in stride, and he said he is not afraid to give it back from time to time. A passion for the game keeps him coming back, and it will have him back in a Cleveland uniform for at least the next year.
"My arm, my body, everything feels great right now. I'm going to play until I can't play or my family says no," Atchison said. "You hope to play this long, and I've been lucky to and I've been fortunate."