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Saturday, January 25
Updated: March 13, 4:09 PM ET
Astros get Lugo's brother in deal for Ward

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros traded outfielder Daryle Ward to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, clearing room for Craig Biggio to move from second base to center field.

Daryle Ward
Los Angeles Dodgers
136 12 72 41 1 .276

Ward, a 27-year-old left-hander who has failed to live up to his power-hitting potential, was traded for right-handed minor-league pitcher Ruddy Lugo.

Ward hit .276 last season for the Astros, with just 12 home runs and 72 RBI. He also had limited fielding range, but the Dodgers praised his versatility.

``I'm disappointed that we're not going to see him reach his full potential in an Astros uniform,'' Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. ``He is still a young player with great talent, and I hope this opportunity will be positive for his career. We certainly wish him well.''

Biggio is changing positions to make way for free agent second baseman Jeff Kent, who signed an $18.2 million, two-year contract with Houston last month after turning down a three-year deal from the San Francisco Giants.

The 6-foor-2, 240-pound Ward recently avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $1.35 million contract. The son of former major leaguer Gary Ward moved quickly through the club's farm system and made a strong debut in 2000 by hitting 20 homers in just 264 at-bats.

``He adds much depth to both our bench and outfield,'' Dodgers general manager Dan Evans said in a statement. ``He can play either corner of the outfield and first base and his presence gives us another power threat from the left side of the plate.''

His numbers fell off in a reserve role the following year, but he was promoted to the starting lineup for 2002 when Moises Alou signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Ward said he was surprised by the trade, and he didn't think his play was a problem in Houston.

``I don't think anything went wrong,'' he told KRIV-TV in Houston on Saturday. ``I just think the organization has plans and I just wasn't a part of that anymore.''

Hunsicker said the trade was made primarily to reduce payroll and ease the ``logjam'' in the outfield. He said the team is looking to make some more payroll trims before spring training.

``Ever since the Kent signing, we've expanded our budget and I've had to get that under control,'' Hunsicker said.

The Astros, who have said they are at their salary limit, have begun discussions with Biggio over a contract extension.

By acquiring Lugo, the brother of Astros shortstop Julio Lugo, Houston hopes to replenish some of the minor-league pitching depth they've lost in recent years through promotions of several young arms to the big leagues.

Ruddy Lugo, 22, was a combined 10-3 with a 2.89 ERA at Class A Vero Beach and Class AA Jacksonville last year. He was a third-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1999 draft and was traded to Los Angeles along with outfielder Marquis Grissom in exchange for outfielder Devon White last February.

Hunsicker said Ruddy Lugo probably will start at Class AA Round Rock this year.

Ward came to Houston in December 1996 as part of a massive trade with Detroit, which sent Ward, Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller and C.J. Nitkowski to the Astros in exchange for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones and Orlando Miller.

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