David Eckstein traded from Toronto to Arizona
NEW YORK -- David Eckstein quickly called his wife, then finished a fast interview and bounced around the clubhouse exchanging hugs with ex-teammates.
The scrappy infielder always hustles, but this was a little different.
Rushing to get back in a pennant race, Eckstein packed up Sunday and headed for Arizona after the NL West-leading Diamondbacks acquired him from Toronto for a minor league pitcher.
The trade, made just before the deadline for playoff eligibility, gives Arizona a late-season spark plug with impressive October credentials.
"I'm definitely very excited with the opportunity to go out there and make the postseason," Eckstein said after helping the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees. "You play this game to win a world championship, so that's hopefully what we'll be able to try to accomplish."
The 2006 World Series MVP with St. Louis, Eckstein batted .277 with a homer, 23 RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage in a part-time role for Toronto. Known for his all-out effort at 5-foot-7, he also helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series.
A shortstop for nearly his entire big league career, Eckstein will play second base in Arizona, potentially sharing time with Augie Ojeda.
The Diamondbacks had been looking for help at second since Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson had season-ending wrist surgery on Aug. 10.
"We'll just see. He's going to play some second base for us, and so will Augie," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said in Phoenix. "Like a lot of our other positions that are a little uncertain right now, we'll match up and see who's playing well and try to run the best lineup out there that particular day."
The fourth-place Blue Jays receive 23-year-old right-hander Chad Beck, who was 8-5 with a 3.67 ERA for two Class A teams this year. He made 15 starts and had one save.
"Our scouts like his arm. They said good fastball, he's got pretty good strikeout numbers. We drafted him out of high school, so obviously we have a little bit of a history with him," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We just feel fortunate that we were able to get a decent guy we liked."
Because the Diamondbacks acquired Eckstein before Sept. 1, he is eligible for their postseason roster if they make the playoffs. Going into Sunday night's game against the second-place Los Angels Dodgers, Arizona had a 3½-game lead in the division.
"Oh, October baseball, it's the best baseball," Eckstein said. "The thing about it is, it's where all that matters is whether you win or lose. It doesn't matter the stats or anything like that. At the end of the day, the only thing that anybody cares about is if you got something in the `W' column or not."
A two-time All-Star, the 33-year-old Eckstein has a .333 average in 51 World Series at-bats with seven RBIs and nine runs scored.
Aware for days that he might be traded, Eckstein learned about the deal right after Toronto's 6-2 victory Sunday at Yankee Stadium. He immediately called his wife, actress Ashley Drane, who was at the airport waiting to board a flight for Toronto.
Change of plans, he told her. Meet me in Phoenix instead.
Eckstein was scheduled to arrive in the desert Sunday night. He was to be added to the Diamondbacks' roster and available to play Monday night against his former team, the Cardinals.
To clear space on the 40-man roster for Eckstein, Arizona designated right-hander Emiliano Fruto for assignment. Fruto was with Triple-A Tucson.
After signing a $4.5 million, one-year contract with Toronto last offseason, Eckstein was relegated to part-time duty while the Blue Jays shuffled several middle infielders in and out of the lineup. He is batting .357 in his last 12 games.
Eckstein is a career .285 hitter in eight major league seasons with 31 homers and 307 RBIs.
"David Eckstein is a very good player and a guy at this point that has a chance to fit an area that has changed a little bit based on Orlando Hudson's injury. In that regard, we thought it made sense," Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said.
"He's been a big part of two teams that won a World Series. At this stage, he's still a plus on-base guy. He plays hard and he's been a part of winning teams and we're glad to have him."
AP Sports Writer Andrew Bagnato in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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