Giants acquire Hillenbrand from Jays

Updated: July 22, 2006, 11:47 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Shea Hillenbrand had several players campaigning for him in his new clubhouse, reminding Giants management of the infielder's availability.

Olney: Shea won't distract
Chatted with a scout Friday and we talked about the likely destination of Shea Hillenbrand, the Giants or the Angels, and he idly asked this question: Would Hillenbrand hurt the Giants' team chemistry?

No, I don't think Hillenbrand, traded to the Giants late Friday night, is going to be a distraction for a team that has coped with the greatest distraction in baseball history: Barry Bonds.

For more of Buster Olney's blog, click here .

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 management.

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 foot forward."

Law: Fairly even deal
Although this trade is being billed as the Shea Hillenbrand trade, it's largely a swap of right-handed relievers, with a free Hillenbrand thrown in for San Francisco. While the Blue Jays did get a small reliever upgrade in the deal, their main benefit from the trade is a savings of about $2 million that they would have owed to Hillenbrand had they been forced to release him.

To read more of Keith Law's analysis, click here .

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 San Francisco.

"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 year.

"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 parties."

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."

First Base
Toronto Blue Jays

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
81 12 39 40 .342 .301

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," Sabean said.

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."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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