New acquisition Eckstein plays first game with Diamondbacks
PHOENIX -- David Eckstein introduced himself to his new team with a flair.
In his first game with Arizona, Eckstein singled in the winning run and had a hand in three late double plays as the Diamondbacks rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-6 on Monday.
"When you come to a new club, you just want to help them and try to do something," said Eckstein, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Eckstein batted second and played second base for the Diamondbacks about 15 hours after arriving from New York, where he played for Toronto on Sunday. Arizona acquired Eckstein from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league righty Chad Beck.
Eckstein meshed immediately with shortstop Stephen Drew. They combined to turn double plays in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, each of them quelling Cardinals rallies.
"I've seen David play," Drew said. "I know the type of player he is. I like that. He's hard-nosed and plays hard every day.
"With a new acquisition, he came in today and it was a good feeling," Drew said.
Arizona is the fourth stop in eight major league seasons for Eckstein, who has spent much of his career at shortstop. On Monday, he played his 21st career game at second base, but he said he didn't think the transition would be difficult.
"It's where I played all my life, up until the big leagues," said Eckstein, who played six games at second for the Blue Jays this year.
Eckstein's arrival is part of a midseason overhaul of the NL West leaders, who have been hit hard by injuries. He'll help fill in for Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson, who underwent season-ending wrist surgery last month.
Eckstein joined another recent acquisition, Adam Dunn, on the right side of the infield on Monday. Dunn played first base for the first time since 2006.
"It means that we're serious about trying to fill some holes, wherever it is," manager Bob Melvin said.
After signing a $4.5 million, one-year contract with Toronto last offseason, Eckstein was relegated to part-time duty while the Blue Jays shuffled several middle infielders in and out of the lineup. He is a career .285 hitter in eight major league seasons with 31 homers and 307 RBIs.
Eckstein figures to play a more important role in Arizona, which entered Monday with a shaky 2½ game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks hope Eckstein will help them clinch their fifth division title in 11 seasons. He'll be eligible for the postseason if the Diamondbacks make it.
"He's played in some big games down the stretch," Melvin said.
Eckstein is only 5-foot-7, but he plays big when the spotlight is brightest.
The 2006 World Series MVP with St. Louis, Eckstein batted .277 with a homer, 23 RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage in a part-time role for Toronto. Known for his all-out effort, Eckstein also helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series.
A two-time All-Star, the 33-year-old Eckstein has a .333 average in 51 World Series at-bats with seven RBIs and nine runs scored.
"I have an opportunity to come to definitely a playoff contender," Eckstein said. "Winning a World Series is just very, very special. Hopefully I can find a way to help this club."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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