Orioles sign Izturis

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles filled their hole at shortstop, agreeing Tuesday to a $5 million, two-year contract with free agent Cesar Izturis.

The 28-year-old Izturis batted .263 in 135 games with the St. Louis Cardinals this year. He ranked third in the NL with a .980 fielding percentage.

"This is a good opportunity to play every day," Izturis said. "I think they needed a defensive shortstop. I just want to help the team win; it will be fun."

Izturis won the 2004 Gold Glove for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was an NL All-Star the following year.

He fills the void at shortstop left by the trade in 2007 that sent Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros. The Orioles employed six players at the position this year, including Freddie Bynum, Juan Castro and Alex Cintron.

Izturis joins a team that has endured 11 straight losing seasons, but hopes to help turn that around in 2009.

"This is a good team with a lot of young guys, guys I've played with before," said Izturis, a native of Venezuela. "There's a tradition here."

A switch-hitter, Izturis batted .290 right-handed and .245 left-handed in 2008. He also led the Cardinals with 24 stolen bases.

A career .260 hitter, Izturis broke into the majors with Toronto in 2001. Besides playing for Los Angeles and St. Louis, he spent time with the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Izturis gets $2.4 million next year and $2.6 million in 2010. He can earn up to $600,000 each year in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 400 and 450 plate appearances and 100 and 110 games started; and $100,000 each for 500 plate appearances, and 120, 130 and 140 games started.