Casey Provides A Bench Bat

The Red Sox today agreed to terms with first baseman Sean Casey on a one-year contract for the 2008 season. The Sox did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but numerous reports have indicated it is worth $800,000.

Casey, 33, joins the Sox after batting .296 with four homers and 54 RBI in 143 games with the Tigers in 2007. He started 105 games at first base and six as the designated hitter. He tied for eighth in the American League with 11 intentional walks and batted .419 in his final 22 games of the season.

Casey, a starter since he broke into the bigs for good with the Reds in 1998, is expected to fill a reserve role for the Sox. He'll likely backup Kevin Youkilis at first base and David Ortiz at designated hitter and give the Sox a solid left-handed bat off the bench as well as a plus glove in the field.

He hit .500 (6-for-12) as a pinch-hitter last year and ranked third among AL first basemen with a .998 fielding percentage. His .9955 career mark at first base is sixth highest all-time among players with at least 1,000 games played.

"Obviously we've got some pretty good players on this team," Casey told reporters at Fenway Park Tuesday. "I told [Terry Francona]—I said ‘If ‘Youk' needs a day, I could spell him. Or if [Mike] Lowell needs a day and ‘Youk' plays third and I could play first—just an opportunity to come in and win a ballgame in the ninth or a situation [where] I had to pinch-hit or something like that. I'll get at-bats here and there."

Casey has a career .301 average with 130 homers and 718 RBI in 1336 games with the Indians (1997), Reds (1998-2005), Pirates (2006), and Tigers (2006-07). The three-time All-Star has batted .300 or better in five different seasons, including three in a row with the Reds from 1999-2001. His .301 career average ranks 15th among active players with at least 4,500 at bats. In addition, he has struck out just 552 times in 4,867 career at-bats.

Casey was outstanding with the Tigers in the 2006 post-season, batting .432 in ten playoff games. That included a .529 average in the Tigers; five-game World Series loss to St. Louis , the second highest figure ever in a Fall Classic of more than four games (10 or more plate appearances).

He said Tuesday the chance to play again on the postseason stage was a major factor in his decision to join the Sox. "I'm at the stage of my career where I just feel like I really wanted to come to a place where I had an opportunity to win," Casey said. "I just see the chemistry here and I want to win the World Series. It just seems like a great place to play. I'm so excited to be here."

In addition to his on-field contributions, Casey should also lighten the mood in the Sox' serious clubhouse. He is nicknamed "The Mayor" for his outgoing ways and was overwhelmingly voted the friendliest player in baseball in a Sports Illustrated poll of 464 big leaguers last year. Casey received 46 percent of the vote, far ahead of second-place finisher Jim Thome (seven percent).

Casey has been added to the Sox' major league roster, putting it at the limit of 40 players.

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