Cubs officially sign Edmonds, option Pie

Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry late Wednesday made official what had been rumored for days, announcing that the club had agreed to terms with outfielder Jim Edmonds, a 16-year major league veteran, on a contract for the 2008 season.

To the surprise of no one, Hendry also announced that outfielder Felix Pie would be optioned to Triple-A Iowa to coincide with the addition of Edmonds, who was released last week by the San Diego Padres after batting .178 in 26 games.

Speaking with reporters shortly after the Cubs' 8-5 win over San Diego at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, Hendry said the timing of the moves was good.

"None of us really see the negatives," Hendry told reporters. "Hopefully, Jimmy's still got something left and it was just a bad start (with San Diego). At the same time, the timing is good. I think we had been talking way before Jimmy was released that we felt that sooner or later, if Felix wasn't getting more (playing) time, we were going to have to get him some consistent at-bats to try and get him consistent for the future."

Pie played in 30 games – many of which were in late-inning situations – and batted .222 with only "five to maybe eight at-bats a week," Hendry noted.

Hendry said that sending Pie down was "the right thing to do."

"At age 23 and with the things that (Cubs manager) Lou (Piniella) and (Hitting Coach) Gerald (Perry) implemented a few weeks ago, with a little different approach and swing, it's virtually impossible to try and make some of those adjustments on a consistent basis when you're getting five to maybe eight at-bats a week," he said.

Piniella last month outlined some of the changes that the Cubs wanted Pie to make. The Cubs brought in Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller to work with Pie on implementing some of those changes.

Hendry said Wednesday that the Cubs were "obviously" not down on Pie.

"He's a tremendous defender. He's got a lot of athletic ability and we've all seen signs of how he can play," Hendry said.

With regards to Edmonds, Hendry said: "Sooner or later, we were going to add a left-handed hitter. We have an opportunity to add a guy that's been a quality player for a long, long time and certainly has done his share of damage in this ballpark.

"(We'll) give him a fair shot to get back in the groove."

Hendry noted that Edmonds has a "long relationship" with Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal because of their past with the St. Louis Cardinals. Edmonds spent eight seasons with the Cardinals, making three All-Star appearances with the club, winning one Silver Slugger Award (2004) and six Gold Gloves. O'Neal spent 15 seasons with the Cardinals prior to being named head athletic trainer by the Cubs in 2004.

"So all the things written that he might not fit in, or be this or that, we dispelled that rather quickly," Hendry said. "We also have a few people that we trust over on the other side of the field in this stadium tonight that we spoke to."

Hendry added that baseball is full of players that many people were ready to write off. He said many of those players got a change of scenery and benefited from it.

"Maybe it'll give us a little extra that we didn't anticipate and give Jimmy a fair shot," Hendry said.

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