SAN FRANCISCO -- Shea Hillenbrand had several players
campaigning for him in his new clubhouse, reminding Giants
management of the infielder's availability.
San Francisco skipper Felipe Alou paid attention, and
Hillenbrand was already on general manager Brian Sabean's radar.
The Giants acquired Hillenbrand from Toronto on Friday, two days
after the Blue Jays booted him from the team for clashing with
Steve Finley, a former teammate of Hillenbrand with Arizona, was
one of the players who approached Alou.
"The guy can hit. He's always around .300 and drives in runs,"
Finley said. "Don't believe everything you read. He's a good guy,
a family guy."
The Giants sent reliever Jeremy Accardo to Toronto for
Hillenbrand and reliever Vinnie Chulk, getting in Hillenbrand the
first baseman and offensive threat they had been seeking before the
trade deadline. Both players were expected to be in uniform for the
Giants on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.
"This team is really focused. It is built around veterans for a
reason. To get something done sooner, than to have to wait in what
I perceive to be a very slow market, hopefully bodes well," Sabean
said. "I think the team will appreciate that we're putting this
Hillenbrand was designated for assignment during Toronto's game
Wednesday night after writing "play for yourself" on a board the
Blue Jays use to post batting practice times. He later wrote the
"ship was sinking" before manager John Gibbons challenged him to
a fight during a team meeting.
Sabean, whose club moved within a half-game of the NL
West-leading Padres following an 8-2 win over San Diego on Friday
night, wants Hillenbrand to get a fair chance and a fresh start in
"I feel there are two sides to the story," Sabean said. "It
will be left for people to decide what happened in Toronto."
Hillenbrand, who has a $5.8 million contract for this season,
hit .301 with 12 homers, 15 doubles and 39 RBI for Toronto this
"It's not easy to be a .300 hitter in both leagues," Sabean
said. "He's always hit a lot of doubles. He can hit a home run and
he can drive in big runs. In Toronto, he was playing first, third
and DHing. I think the opportunity to play every day, not only for
us but for his sake, is probably going to be good for both
Sabean said he is interested in keeping the 30-year-old
Hillenbrand around beyond the 2006 season.
"There were a number of guys who came into my office last night
asking me if we knew that Hillenbrand was available," said Alou,
who hadn't yet decided where to bat Hillenbrand. "A couple of
those guys have been teammates with him. The word was that he's a
good guy on the team and we all know what kind of player he is. I
think he'll fit perfectly in the situation right now."
The Giants had a hard time parting with Accardo, someone they
considered a future closer.
"I don't think he was as emotional or stunned as I still am,"
Accardo will be back in the Bay Area next week when the Blue
Jays play a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
"I think the shocking part of it wore off a little bit ago,"
said Accardo, told of the trade by Alou right after the game. "I'm
going to go there and do what I can to help them win. I've got to
leave here and the team that got me here [to the majors]. It's a
tough thing leaving all my friends I came up with."