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D-Backs complete Hillenbrand trade to Jays

PHOENIX -- A chance to pitch close to home and his young family led left-hander Shawn Estes to leave Colorado for a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"To me, that was the thing that sealed the deal," Estes said
in a conference call after the agreement was announced Wednesday.
"My family definitely comes first in my life, and career is
second, so it was an easy choice to me."

The Diamondbacks also announced Wednesday the trade of Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Adam Peterson.

Hillenbrand, acquired from Boston in May 2003, hit a team-high
.310 for the Diamondbacks last season with 15 home runs and 80
RBIs. A third baseman most of his career, he played first last
season for Arizona.

The Diamondbacks made the trade as a payroll-cutting move.
Hillenbrand earned $2.6 million this season and was eligible for
arbitration, which meant he probably would have received about $4
million for next season.

Peterson, a 25-year-old right-hander, spent the majority of the
2004 season as a closer in the minors, appearing in just three
games for Toronto. He has a fastball in the mid-90 mph range.
Peterson had a 2.54 ERA and 15 saves with Double-A New Hampshire
last year.

Estes turned down a two-year offer for more money from the
Washington Nationals. He and his wife Heather -- and their sons
16-month-old Jackson and 3-month-old Cody -- live in Paradise
Valley, about a 20-minute drive to Bank One Ballpark.

"I was single for a long time in the big leagues, and playing
with guys that had children I saw how hard it was for them to be
away," Estes said.

He becomes the third new starting pitcher on a Diamondbacks
roster that has been dramatically overhauled since the team lost
111 games last season. Arizona signed free agent Russ Ortiz, then
acquired Javier Vazquez as part of the trade that sent Randy
Johnson to the New York Yankees.

Estes, 31, was 15-8 with a 5.84 ERA in a career-high 34 starts
for the Rockies last season. Despite pitching in
hitter-friendly Coors Field, Estes' victories were second to
Johnson among left-handers in the National League.

It was a comeback season for Estes, who found himself with few
job offers after going 8-11 with a 5.74 ERA with the Chicago Cubs
in 2003. He credits his success a year ago to his offseason
conditioning and preparing himself mentally to succeed in Colorado,
where pitchers almost always seem to struggle.

"I rededicated myself physically," he said. "I knew I was
going to have to prove myself again and kind of reinvent myself."

Most significantly to the Diamondbacks front office, Estes was
8-1 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 starts against NL West opponents. He led
the National League in inducing double plays and was second in the
NL in pickoffs with five.

Estes pitched six seasons for San Francisco, then has been with
four teams over the past three years. His best season was in 1997,
when he went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA with the Giants and made the
All-Star team.

Estes played with Ortiz in San Francisco.

"He's a workhorse," Estes said. "He'll go out and give you
200 innings every year."

Last season, Estes was a teammate of Royce Clayton, Arizona's
new shortstop.

"I didn't know how good he was until I did play with him,"
Estes said. "He's one of the best shortstops in the league day in
and day out."

He said he doesn't care where he pitches in the rotation. And as
for the Diamondbacks' prospects, he said his predictions usually
are wrong.

"This team reminds me a lot of the '97 Giants to be honest with
you," he said. "Pretty much every position was filled with new
guys, except for left field, and we won the division. It's kind of
a crapshoot when you put new guys together. Either you gel or you
don't, but I think we'll come together really well."