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12/18/09 7:48 PM EST

Carroll signed to split time at second

Dodgers ink versatile veteran to two-year contract

LOS ANGELES -- Jamey Carroll and Blake DeWitt "will share second base," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Friday after Carroll passed his physical exam, making official his two-year, $3.85 million deal with the club.

"Jamey can also play shortstop, third base, the outfield," said Colletti. "If DeWitt gets hot, Carroll's got versatility. He could spell Casey Blake at third, he could spell Raffy [Rafael Furcal]. We've seen him in the outfield in season and we'll see him in Spring Training. He can come off the bench. There's a lot of different things he brings."

One way or the other, the combination of Carroll, who turns 36 in February, and the 24-year-old DeWitt replaces last year's second-base combination of Orlando Hudson and Ronnie Belliard, at a savings of around $6 million. Carroll also has a potential $525,000 in plate-appearance incentives over the two seasons.

Colletti said Carroll was one of "three or four" infielders he targeted this winter (Belliard and Juan Uribe were believed in that group).

"Part of our decision is his versatility and who he is," said Colletti, who puts a priority on makeup. "He's one of the better teammates in the game with above-average leadership qualities.

"I explained our situation with Blake DeWitt and told him DeWitt has a good chance to come back and play and he said he sees it as part of his responsibility to help DeWitt become as good as he can be."

"The opportunity to join a storied franchise and play for a legendary coaching staff from top to bottom was too good to pass up," said Carroll. "It's great to come back to the [National League] again, where I can be used in a double-switch, pinch-hit or do whatever the coaches want me to do.

"I'm ready and excited to be a Dodger. When I look at the Dodgers, I see a first-place team. I'm familiar with the NL West and wanted to come back, having gone to the World Series in 2007 with the Rockies. Now I'm looking forward to hopefully going back to the World Series again, only this time with the Dodgers."

Agent Jonathan Maurer said Carroll chose the Dodgers over Oakland and Cleveland.

"Oakland, Cleveland and Los Angeles all had good proposals and we appreciated everyone's interest but clearly the Dodgers were Jamey's first choice and we're excited to partner with them," Maurer said. "It was a good negotiation, smooth conversation, and I look forward to working with them again in the future. Jamey enjoyed his time in Cleveland and we certainly respect Oakland's sincere interest, but we're excited that he's going to be a Dodger and really enjoyed the process of working with Ned Colletti, Kim Ng and the entire Dodger organization."

Colletti said he wouldn't rule out adding another infielder, but said he'd "rather use the money to sign a pitcher," which, he emphasized, was still his concentration.

He said Chin-lung Hu could be the backup shortstop. The Dodgers also are believed to have shown interest in free agent Felipe Lopez.

Colletti was asked if the club had the financial resources to add a pitcher or two.

"There's creativity here and there," he said. "We have a chance."

The Dodgers have passed on the major free-agent pitchers and are hoping another Randy Wolf falls into their laps on a one-year contract. Colletti said he made "a lot of moves in January and February last year and it looks like the same type of winter."

He still is looking for "a bat for the bench," adding the re-signed Doug Mientkiewicz could be it. He also said he remains in touch with free agent Brad Ausmus, who he said "is open-minded" about being a backup catcher at age 41.

"But if that doesn't work out, we have confidence in A.J. Ellis, too," Colletti said. "Brad has experience few do. A.J. can manage a staff. He's a catch-and-throw big league guy."

Carroll hit .273 and played in 93 games with Cleveland this season, accumulating 315 at-bats while earning $2.5 million. He previously played with Montreal/Washington and reached the World Series with Colorado in 2007.

In eight Major League seasons, Carroll has a career batting average of .273 with 12 homers, 174 RBIs, 369 runs, 41 stolen bases and a .351 on-base percentage in 786 games. Carroll's best season was 2006, when he played 136 games, had 534 plate appearances, scored 84 runs and batted .300. It was the only season in which he played more than 113 games.

The Indiana native has hit .284 in his career against left-handers while batting .348 (32-for-92) as a pinch-hitter. Since getting called up to the big leagues in 2002, his average as a pinch-hitter is the best in baseball over that time (minimum 100 plate appearances).

The Dodgers bench this winter could lose to free agency as many as five players -- Belliard, Ausmus, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta and Jim Thome. Castro has already signed with Philadelphia.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.