D-Backs sign Byrnes to $2.25 million deal

PHOENIX -- Outfielder Eric Byrnes has agreed to a one-year,
$2.25 million contract with Arizona and promises to bring energy
and enthusiasm to the Diamondbacks.

Byrnes, 29, slumped to a .226 batting average in a nomadic 2005
season that had him playing for Oakland, Colorado and Baltimore. In
2004, Byrnes hit .283 for Oakland with 20 home runs and 73 RBI.

The Diamondbacks signed Byrnes to play center field, the
position he loves most.

"The opportunity to play center field was just huge for me.
I've never really gotten a ton of opportunities," Byrnes said in a
telephone interview Friday with The Associated Press. "I've always
felt that was my best position."

Byrnes, who has a home in nearby Scottsdale, has a career .259
average in four-plus major league seasons. When he became a regular
for the A's, he batted either first or second in the order.

His hitting fell off badly in the second half of last season.

"The obvious excuse would be that I bounced around," Byrnes
said. "I think that had something to do with it, but at the same
time, I think mechanically I was just a bit off."

Byrnes said he was working on the mechanical problems in the

"He fits the club very well," said Arizona general manager
Josh Byrnes, no relation. "He provides a great deal of energy, he
can play defense and run the bases and he hits left-handed pitching
very well."

Eric Byrnes said he could promise fans two things.

"No. 1 is that I love baseball," he said, "and No. 2 is I'm
going to give everything I've got every day I go out there."

He said he had higher offers from other teams but thought
Arizona was the best fit.

"I didn't even want a two-year deal," the player said. "A
couple of teams mentioned it but I didn't even think I deserved it.
It was about getting an opportunity to prove that I was a lot
better hitter than I was last year. I know I am, and I think
Arizona has given me a vote of confidence."

The signing will allow the Diamondbacks to avoid rushing top
prospect Chris Young into an everyday role in the majors. Young,
considered the team's center fielder of the future, was acquired
from the Chicago White Sox in the Javier Vazquez trade.

Josh Byrnes has engineered moves that have brought three new
starters -- Eric Byrnes, second baseman Orlando Hudson and catcher
Johnny Estrada.

Hudson and starter Miguel Batista came from Toronto in exchange
for Troy Glaus. Estrada was acquired from Atlanta for relievers
Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.

Craig Counsell will shift from second base to shortstop. Chad
Tracy will take Glaus' spot at third. Shawn Green, who played out
of position in center much of last season, will move back to right.

"The direction of the team reminds me a lot of how the A's were
when I came up with them," Eric Byrnes said. "It seems like they
have a lot of good prospects just breaking in and obviously
established veterans like Gonzo [Luis Gonzalez] and Shawn Green."