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Durham agrees to two-year deal with Giants

The San Francisco Giants hope Ray Durham can stay healthy and
give them another couple of seasons like his career year in 2006.

San Francisco re-signed Durham to a two-year contract Friday
that will pay the second baseman between $14 million and $15
million.

"At the end of the day, the decision to move forward was strong
on both parts," general manager Brian Sabean said. "His
switch-hitting abilities and increased power numbers serve as a
needed commodity for our evolving team. He has impressed us with
his ability to transform his game from a top-of-the-order run
scorer to a middle-of-the-lineup run producer."

The 35-year-old Durham is coming off his best season in years,
batting .293 with career highs of 26 home runs and 93 RBIs with a
.538 slugging percentage. He signed as a free agent with the club
before the 2003 season but has dealt with several leg injuries
since his arrival.

His 498 at-bats last season were his most in four seasons with
the Giants.

"It was important for me to stay healthy," Durham said. "I
feel as long as I can stay healthy, I can definitely contribute to
the team and the direction that the team is trying to go in. ... I
honestly feel that if I can keep my core and my legs together, I
can put up the same numbers I did last year."

Durham's 26 home runs this past season were the second-highest
single-season total by a switch-hitter in franchise history.
J.T. Snow hit 28 homers in 1997.

With Barry Bonds' status for next season uncertain and Moises Alou having left to sign with the New York Mets, the Giants could
be counting on Durham as one of their main power sources again next
season.
"As far as my being the power guy on the team if Barry doesn't
come back, it will definitely be a huge change for me," Durham
said. "But on the other hand, I'm not going to change the way I
approach the game because I know I'm not a power hitter. I'm going
to drive the ball in the gap and if they go for me, they go."

The Giants also were soon expected to announce the signings of
infielder Rich Aurilia, who could become the starting third baseman
if San Francisco doesn't re-sign Pedro Feliz and center fielder
Dave Roberts -- reuniting Roberts with his former manager in San
Diego, Bochy.

San Francisco also was reportedly interested in free-agent
catcher Bengie Molina. Sabean wouldn't confirm whether the Giants
were trying to acquire Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox.

"We're in a lot of trade talks, I'll put it that way," Sabean
said.

San Francisco had been considering giving rookie
Kevin Frandsen
a shot at the starting job at second, but Durham showed he had
regained his stroke and health this year -- certainly giving the
team more confidence he could still be a reliable everyday player.

"We deliberated," Sabean said of Frandsen. "No matter how
this shakes out, in talks with Boch, we do feel [Frandsen] is going
to get a lot of playing time and at-bats."

The 35-year-old Aurilia played for the Giants for his first nine
major league seasons from 1995-2003, helping San Francisco reach
the 2002 World Series. He spent the past two seasons with the
Cincinnati Reds and has expressed interest in returning to the Bay
Area. He batted .300 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI in 440 at-bats
in 2006 and is willing to play anywhere in the infield.

Sabean said of talks with Feliz: "That subject's alive."

Roberts spent the last two seasons with Bochy in San Diego and
has said he would be interested in following the manager to the
Giants, who hired Bochy away from the Padres to become Felipe
Alou's successor. A reliable leadoff hitter, Roberts hit .293 with
two homers and 44 RBI and stole a career-best 49 bases this year.

The Giants missed the playoffs for the third straight year and
have several other holes to fill. They are deciding whether to
bring back Bonds to play left field as the slugger chases
Hank Aaron's career home run record of 755.