SAN DIEGO (AP) -Tony Clark gets to play for the team he grew up rooting for.
The big first baseman and his hometown San Diego Padres finalized a $900,000, one-year contract Thursday, five days before position players are due to report to spring training.
Clark made the six-minute drive from his Phoenix-area home to the Padres' complex in Peoria to drop off some gear and to meet with manager Bud Black and some of the pitchers and catchers in camp. He plans to get in a workout on Friday.
``I'm excited about it,'' the 35-year-old Clark said by phone Thursday night. ``My wife and I were talking the other day, it's not often you get an opportunity to play on a team professionally that you grew up watching.''
Clark said he idolized Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield. He went to his first Padres game at what was then called Jack Murphy Stadium in 1980, when he was 8.
rom the field that the guys looked really small,'' Clark said. ``It seemed like such a different world and the players were surreal. I couldn't imagine ever getting close to one.''
Clark has known Padres right fielder Brian Giles since the were high school opponents in suburban El Cajon. Clark was taken with the second pick overall in the June 1990 draft by Detroit. He played basketball at San Diego State while playing in the Tigers' minor league system.
The Padres will be Clark's sixth big league team.
His three-year run with Arizona ended on Dec. 14, when the Diamondbacks needed his roster spot after pulling off big trades with Oakland and Houston.
Clark said he received a number of calls from teams after filing for free agency, but didn't receive any offers until recently.
``The combination of San Diego, the success the ballclub has had, the talent that's there, it stood out above the other offers,'' he said.
The switch-hitter will back up Adrian Gonzalez and provide pop off the bench.
``I always want to be in a position to make a contribution, period, in whatever capacity that is,'' Clark said. ``I'm trying to slip a World Series championship ring on my finger, so whatever capacity I can help a ballclub achieve that, I'm all for it.''
Clark batted .249 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 221 at-bats with Arizona in 2007.
``This guy has proved, especially in this division, what he's capable of doing coming off the bench,'' general manager Kevin Towers said. ``He hit 17 home runs in a little over 200 plate appearances last year. He's a switch-hitter who can do damage from both sides of the plate.
``He's got those intangibles,'' Towers added. ``He's a team leader. From talking to former teammates or other general managers, this guy is a class citizen in the clubhouse, which is great.''
Clark can earn up to $550,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He'll also get a $500,000 payment should he be traded.
Also Thursday, the Padres and catcher Josh Bard agreed on a contract for $2,237,500 to avoid arbitration. Bard can make another $225,000 in incentives if he starts 112 games.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Padres designated outfielder Drew Macias for assignment.

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