01/16/2004 10:19 AM ET
Palmeiro signs one-year deal
HOUSTON -- One of the final questions of the offseason was answered on Friday, when Houston Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker announced that the club has agreed to a one-year contract with veteran outfielder Orlando Palmeiro.
Palmeiro, 35, batted .271 (86-for-317) with 13 doubles, three homers and 33 RBIs over 141 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003.
An aggressive pinch-hitter, Palmeiro batted .295 (13-for-44) with two doubles and six RBIs off the bench for the Cardinals last year. He had four hits in 16 pinch-hit at-bats at Minute Maid Park.
Prior to joining St. Louis, Palmeiro spent eight years with the Anaheim Angels and batted .300 during the club's World Series season in 2002.
Palmeiro fills the description of the left-handed-hitting bench player Hunsicker was seeking after the club chose not to offer a contract to Orlando Merced.
"He'll be a good fit for us," said Hunsicker. "He has versatility -- he can play all three outfield positions -- and he's an experienced bat off the bench. He came up with big hits as a pinch-hitter and he has postseason experience, including a World Series. He's also a quality person, and he'll be a good addition to our club."
To make room for Palmeiro on the 40-man roster, the Astros designated outfielder Colin Porter for assignment.
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Jason Lane is the top candidate to fill the final backup outfielder spot. There is still room on the roster for a second backup infielder to join Jose Vizcaino as another bat off the bench. Eric Bruntlett, who had limited playing time as a midseason callup last year, will be a candidate to fill that role.
Entering Spring Training, one of Hunsicker's final orders of business will be to decide who will win the job of fifth starter. Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller fill the first four spots, and five pitchers are expected to compete for the final job -- Tim Redding, Jeriome Robertson, Jared Fernandez, Carlos Hernandez and Brandon Duckworth.
Spring Training officially begins when pitchers and catchers report to Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 21.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.