Dodgers sign ex-Giant reliever Wilson to 1-year deal

LOS ANGELES — The Beard is back in baseball.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed free-agent reliever Brian Wilson to a one-year contract. He will join the team after pitching in the minors on a rehab assignment.

“One thing we talked about was that quality power on the back end,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s one of the areas we felt could still help us.”

Wilson hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 12, 2012, the same month he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

He threw in front of scouts last week, and Mattingly said the Dodgers’ representatives were happy with Wilson’s location and velocity.

Wilson was one of the majors’ top relievers from 2008-11 with the San Francisco Giants. He was a three-time All-Star and led the big leagues with 163 saves in 186 chances.

He was a key reliever during the Giants’ run to the 2010 World Series championship, striking out 16 in 11 2-3 scoreless innings in the postseason. He became a free agent after last season, when the Giants didn’t offer him a contract.

Wilson is 20-20 with 171 saves in 315 career games with the Giants. The 31-year-old pitcher has limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average during his career with 340 strikeouts in 320 innings.

His heavy black beard has taken on a life of its own, and helped make Wilson a celebrity.

“We have some characters in there, so I’m sure he’ll fit right in,” Mattingly said.

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