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Giants make Edgar Renteria their new shortstop

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[December 05, 2008]  SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Edgar Renteria is back in the National League, where he thinks he belongs.

Renteria became the second free agent to join the San Francisco Giants in two days, receiving an $18.5 million, two-year contract Thursday to replace 11-time Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel.

CivicA five-time NL All-Star, Renteria has spent 11 of his 13 major league seasons in the National League. He won a World Series ring with the 1997 Florida Marlins and a pennant in 2004 with St. Louis, but struggled during a pair of one-season stints in the AL, with Boston in 2005 and Detroit this year.

"I played good in the National League. I feel real comfortable," Renteria said on a conference call. "Maybe I know more of the game in the National League. It's my type of league. I like to play the game. The American League is different -- you have to go for the home run and wait for hitting. That's no excuse for what happened in the American League, but it might be why I'm so excited to get back to the National League."

Renteria gets a $2 million signing bonus, $7 million next year and $9 million in 2010. The Giants have a $10.5 million option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean has had a busy week, signing right-handed reliever Bobby Howry to a one-year contract Wednesday and following that up by securing Renteria. The sides had all but finalized a deal during a meeting Wednesday.


Renteria, a career .290 hitter, was back in Miami on Thursday after a quick visit to San Francisco.

"We really appreciate his interest and look forward to a relationship that's going to be fruitful on both sides. I don't think Edgar needs any introduction," Sabean said. "We're just thrilled to put him in our No. 2 spot in the lineup and at shortstop and move on to other business."

The Tigers declined to offer Renteria salary arbitration Monday. While he was being pursued by three or four teams, Renteria said the Giants' strong interest meant a lot to him in making the decision.

"I want to go where the people want me to go. I don't go where they don't want me," he said. "The Giants were interested in signing me. That's a great city to play baseball."

Renteria will be looking to have a better year in 2009. He batted .270 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs this season for the Tigers, who afterward declined their $11 million option and gave him a $3 million buyout.

Sabean isn't concerned about Renteria, especially considering he had a better second half.

"We have no reservations of him being a shortstop and what he's going to do for our offense," the GM said. "It's an upgrade."

The Giants haven't reached the playoffs since 2003 and were in a rebuilding phase last season, going 72-90 while using many young players in key roles. Having a veteran shortstop will be a big help considering Vizquel provided that kind of stability during his four years with the club.

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"To get somebody with his resume is huge for our ballclub. He's a winner," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's versatile as far as hitting in the batting order. He helps solidify our defense up the middle. This is a very great sign for us and I couldn't be more excited to have a player of his caliber."

Sabean said after the 2008 season there was "zero" chance the Giants would bring back the 41-year-old Vizquel despite his popularity and still-reliable defense in the middle of the infield.

"Everybody knows Omar is one of the best shortstops in the game," said the Colombian-born Renteria. "Two Latin guys, All-Stars. To replace Omar, for me that's an honor."

San Francisco also had been interested in Rafael Furcal, but the 33-year-old Renteria certainly became less of a medical risk considering Furcal -- also being courted by the Oakland Athletics -- was sidelined for all but 36 games last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers because of back problems that required surgery.

With the acquisition of Renteria, Sabean now might look to trade talented prospect Emmanuel Burriss -- or give Burriss more time to develop and perhaps even use him at second base. The 23-year-old Burriss, selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 2006 draft, played 95 games last season as a rookie.

Sabean said he and his staff would discuss not only Burriss but also infielders Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez during next week's winter meetings in Las Vegas.

[Associated Press; By JANIE McCAULEY]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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