NASHVILLE – Filling a stated need for a veteran bench presence, the Diamondbacks signed Eric Hinske to a one-year contract Tuesday noon.
Hinske, 35, fits a lot of general manager Kevin Towers’ criteria – he is a left-handed bat with pop who can play both corner infield spots and the outfield, although manager Kirk Gibson said Tuesday that he does not expect Hinske to play a lot of third base. Hinske is considered a quality clubhouse presence on a team that stresses chemistry.
“Mostly thinking about bench for him,” Gibson said. “He’s got experience. Understands how to read people. First base probably. Probably could go to third or outfield in a pinch, in an extra-inning game. His mentality is somewhat one I can relate to – very intense. I like that.
“He’ll get some spot stats at various positions. We were not very good in late/close or leverage situations. As you analyze that, a lot of mentality is involved in that. You have to develop a certain approach in those situations and trust it. He’s a guy who can help us as a team as well as what he may do production-wise from his at-bats.”
Hinske has spent the last three years with Atlanta, primarily as a backup first baseman/corner outfielder and pinch-hitter. He hit 11 homers in 281 at-bats in 2010 and 10 homers in 236 at-bats in 2011 before dipping to two home runs and a .197 average last season in 132 at-bats.
He was the AL Rookie of the Year with Toronto in 2002 as a third baseman.
Hinske is a career .258 hitters against right-handed pitchers, with 113 of his 136 home runs against them. His deal is worth about $1 million.
The D-backs remain in conversations about outfielders Justin Upton and Jason Kubel, and it appears that Seattle has interest in both.