|Iguchi hopes to stick around a while as Padres' second baseman|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:33|
The Padres finalized their $3.85 million, one-year contract with Iguchi on Tuesday and introduced him at a news conference.
``My No. 1 priority was the atmosphere of the town,'' Iguchi said through a translator. ``Last year at the trading deadline I was traded to Philadelphia and I had the opportunity to live away from my family and that was kind of hard for me. I wanted to choose a place I could live with my family and spend the offseason as well.''
Iguchi batted .304 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 45 games with the NL East champion Phillies, who acquired him from the Chicago White Sox to fill in at second while All-Star Chase Utley was injured. Iguchi hit .267 overall with nine home runs and 43 RBIs.
He will replace Marcus Giles, who slumped badly and eventually lost his starting job at second base during his one season in San Diego. Iguchi can earn another $650,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
``Last year I didn't get to play as well as I would have liked,'' he said. ``I felt a shorter-term contract would give me the chance and also the motivation to play better and help the team win.''
He and his agent, Rocky Hall, said they chose San Diego because the Padres were looking for a second baseman while other teams wanted to move Iguchi to third.
``Second base is the position with which I'm most comfortable due to playing there the last couple of years,'' Iguchi said. ``It's the position I could help the team most. I understand this is a very big ballpark. It will give me the chance to hit more doubles and triples as well. I will get the opportunity to run and play with my own style to fit into the team and help.''
The Padres fell one victory short of their third consecutive playoff appearance this year, and Iguchi arrives with a winning pedigree. He helped the White Sox win the 2005 World Series during his first year in the majors after coming over from Japan.
``Pitchers were very conscious of him when he was in the batter's box,'' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ``We always thought he was a tough out. I know that there wasn't one way to pitch. He has power, the ability to hit for average and what I liked about Tadahito was that in tough situations he always seemed to give a tough at-bat.''
General manager Kevin Towers said Iguchi will make the Padres a much better offensive club, and he's good at turning the double play.
``Hopefully, it's longer than one year. Hopefully, you're here for a long, long time and you enjoy San Diego,'' Towers told Iguchi.
``I'm absolutely hoping that I can stay here for many, many years,'' Iguchi said. ``I'm looking at this one-year contract to better my performance.''
Towers said the acquisition of Iguchi will give prospect Matt Antonelli the chance to get more at-bats in the minor leagues.
``We think we have a very good infield defensively and we think we added a solid bat as well,'' Towers said. ``I've heard a lot of great things about his character.''