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With Wigginton aboard, Astros designate Ensberg for assignment

7/29/2007 - MLB Morgan Ensberg Houston Astros + more

HOUSTON -- One day after acquiring Ty Wigginton in a trade
with Tampa Bay, the Houston Astros designated struggling third
baseman Morgan Ensberg for assignment on Sunday.

Houston also recalled left-hander Mark McLemore to fill the
roster spot vacated when reliever Dan Wheeler was sent to the Devil
Rays in Saturday's trade.

The 31-year-old Ensberg was hitting .232 with eight homers and
31 RBIs in 85 games. That was far off the pace from his All-Star
season in 2005, when he hit .283 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs and
helped Houston reach its only World Series.

Ensberg was never the same after tearing a tendon in his right
shoulder diving for a foul ball on June 9, 2006. He spent a month
on the disabled list, then came back in August and finished the
season with a career-low .235 average and only 58 RBIs.

Houston is responsible for the remainder of Ensberg's $4.35
million salary this season. The Astros drafted Ensberg in 1998.

"You never know why players' performances change," general
manager Tim Purpura said. "This year, there have been no issues
from a physical point of view that I'm aware of. Sometimes, a
change of scenery helps a guy, to get him in a better frame of
mind. I think this guy, in a different environment, is going to go
off and return to form."

Purpura and manager Phil Garner met with Ensberg early Sunday
morning. Ensberg said the meeting was cordial, adding that he
expected the move.

"It's not like choking each other or something like that,"
Ensberg said. "It's simply, this is how the game works. My mind is
more at ease, knowing what's going on."

Ensberg started 52 games at third base this season. Mike Lamb
and Mark Loretta have split the other starts and both had been more
productive than Ensberg at the plate.

"It's a function of opportunity in here," Ensberg said.
"Other guys had played really well and that means my opportunities
shrank."

The 29-year-old Wigginton was in the starting lineup for the
Astros for Sunday's game against San Diego. Wigginton was hitting
.275 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 98 games for Tampa Bay this
season.

The Devil Rays entered Sunday with a 38-65 record, the worst in
the majors.

"I enjoyed it there. I've got no complaints," Wigginton said
of his 1½ seasons in Tampa. "Obviously, it gets tough when you're
having a season like that. It wears on you, but the coaching staff
was handling it the right way and the guys were learning what they
needed to do to get better."

Wigginton caught a flight to Houston early Sunday morning.

"They just told me, 'Come ready to play,'" he said.

McLemore made his major league debut on May 24, pitching a
scoreless inning against Arizona. He was sent back to Triple-A
Round Rock on July 13, when closer Brad Lidge came off the disabled
list.

Houston manager Phil Garner said Chad Qualls will take over
Wheeler's role as the late-inning setup man.

Wheeler was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA this season. The previous three
seasons, Wheeler had a 2.41 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 159 innings.