Padres sign Eckstein; claim Ryu

David Eckstein

San Diego, CA – The San Diego Padres announced today that they have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with infielder David Eckstein. Additionally, the Padres claimed right-handed pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu (pronounced Jay Cook Yu) off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.

David Eckstein, who will turn 34 on January 20, hit a combined .265 (86-for-324) with 21 doubles, two home runs, 27 RBI and 32 runs scored in 94 games between Toronto and Arizona in 2008. He began the season with the Blue Jays and batted .277 (72-for-260) in 76 games before an August 31 trade to the Diamondbacks. Between the two stops, he made 57 appearances (56 starts) at shortstop and played 24 errorless games (23 starts) at second base.

"David has been a part of two World Series Championship teams and knows what it takes to win," said Towers. "He will bring an incredible work ethic to the playing field and should establish himself as a leader in the clubhouse."

A two-time National League All-Star (2005-06), Eckstein was originally selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 19th round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida. In 1,059 Major League games over eight seasons with the Anaheim Angels (2001-04), St. Louis Cardinals (2005-07), Blue Jays (2008) and Diamondbacks (2008), he has hit .284 (1,165-for-4,096) with 182 doubles, 18 triples, 32 home runs, 312 RBI, 588 runs scored, 310 walks and 112 stolen bases. Eckstein has posted a .351 on-base percentage while slugging .361. He has compiled a .978 fielding percentage in 974 career appearances at shortstop and .983 mark in 38 games at second base. Eckstein played for the Angels during Padres manager Bud Black's tenure as the club's pitching coach.

"Eck is the ultimate winner, I look forward to working with him again," Black said. "He will set a great example for our young players and help the Padres win ballgames."

Eckstein has appeared on two World Series championship clubs, winning with the Angels in 2002 and Cardinals in 2006. He earned World Series MVP honors for the 2006 Fall Classic when he batted .364 (8-for-22) with four RBI in five games against the Detroit Tigers. Eckstein is a career .278 (49-for-176) hitter in 44 postseason games, including a .333 mark (17-for-51) in 12 World Series contests.

Jae Kuk Ryu, 25, appeared in one game for the Rays in 2008, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. He made five starts at Triple-A Durham, going 1-2 with a 4.38 ERA (12 ER/24.2 IP) and 19 strikeouts before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in July. A native of Choon Chung Do, South Korea, Ryu has appeared in 28 Major League games (one start) over parts of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2006) and Rays (2007-08). Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on June 1, 2001, he is 1-3 with a 7.49 ERA (33 ER/39.2 IP) and 32 strikeouts. Over parts of seven minor league seasons in the Cubs (2002-06) and Rays (2007-08) organizations, Ryu is 42-34 with a 3.52 ERA (263 ER/672.1 IP).

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