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Phils ink Wooten to one-year deal


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12/23/2003 3:50 PM ET

Phils ink Wooten to one-year deal

Former Angel has .359 career average off the bench

By Tom Singer / MLB.com

 

Shawn Wooten, who once worked his way back from baseball's hinterlands to earn a World Series ring, has worked his way to Philadelphia.

The beefy free-agent slugger has agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies, who continued to tweak their solid core by adding an invaluable role player.

 

Actually, Wooten gives the Phillies several role players. In four seasons with the Angels, he played third and first base as well as seeing time as a catcher.

 

But what he does best is hit, and his primary position in Philadelphia will be the bench.

 

"Adding his right-handed bat gives us the best bench since I've been here," manager Admin Bowa said of his newest weapon on Tuesday.

 

Even in the American League, where the DH eliminates most routine needs for a pinch-hitter, Wooten carved out a reputation for his production in the pinch. Last season, he hit .350 (7-for-20) in that role and is a career .359 hitter off the bench.

 

"You don't get a fastball by this guy," general manager Ed Wade said simply.

 

"In the National League," Bowa said, "you use everyone, and having a guy with his versatility helps our club a lot."

 

Wooten, whose contract calls for $575,000 plus performance incentives, leaves one recent World Series champion for one of the early favorites for the 2004 World Series.

 

So this move is a bit more parallel than his last one, which was a quantum upward leap from Moose Jaw to Anaheim.

 

 

Released by the Detroit Tigers soon after his selection in the 1993 draft, Wooten worked his way back into big-league scouts' consciousness by spending 1995-96 playing for Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan, Canada), in an independent league.

 

Rescued by the Angels, Wooten spent four star-crossed seasons in Anaheim. An amalgam of injuries -- sprained ACL, thumb ligament -- repeatedly slashed his playing time.

 

But when he was available, he was a foreboding threat on the Angels' bench. Those four part-time seasons added up to the equivalent of one uninterrupted campaign -- 615 at-bats -- and Wooten netted 18 homers and 84 RBIs out of them.

 

Wooten showed his most dangerous side during the Angels' 2002 run to a World Series title, going 9-for-19 (.474) with a homer and three RBIs in nine games.

 

"There's nothing better in baseball than that feeling of being a world champion," Wooten said. "You always want to be a part of that. I thought I had the best opportunity for that here in Philadelphia.

 

"Any way I can help this team win the World Series ... it if means coming off the bench ... whatever they need, I'll do it."

 

Bowa won't have any trouble filling Wooten's plate.

 

"I would've liked to give (first baseman Jim) Thome a few more days off last year. If (recovering third baseman David) Bell hits a snag, we now have another option," the manager said. "Having someone with Shawn's versatility frees you up as far as how you use people."

 

Hearing Wooten pledge to help win a World Series was Christmas music to Bowa's ears.

 

"He didn't say 'playoffs,' but 'World Series.' That kind of attitude, you can't get enough of," said Bowa who, like everyone else in Philadelphia, is antsy for Spring Training to begin.

 

Kevin Millwood's recent acceptance of arbitration, a confirmation of the team's contending status, has put this city's expectations into overdrive.

 

"On paper, we're a very good team," Bowa said, "but we haven't yet won anything. It's a very deep roster, a very good roster.

 

"A guy (Wooten) coming from a winning team will help the rest of our players. Now we just gotta get 'em ready to play."

 

Wooten has been added to the mix for his attitude, for his bat and for his many gloves. Was it also for his World Series ring, which he can display as motivation in the clubhouse?

 

"Maybe," Wooten said, "I'll be wearing my 2004 World Series ring at Spring Training in 2005."

 

Ed Wade offered yet another reason for acquiring him:

 

"I always wanted a guy who played in Moose Jaw. We can cross that off our list."

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shawn who?

 

 

 

 

 BATTING STATISTICS

  CAREER: BATTING | FIELDING

  Season  TM  G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG OPS2000Ana792510010000.556.556.6671.223

 

2001Ana7922124698183254220.312.332.466.798

 

2002Ana4911313338031962420.292.331.442.773

 

2003Ana98272256680732244504.243.303.349.652

 

Total--2336156417325118843511144.281.322.413.735

 

 

 

 

for only $575,000, i dont see how it could hurt them. it looks like he has great potential off the bench.

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