12/12/2007 3:42 PM ET
Giants sign Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand to five-year pact
SAN FRANCISCO -- In strengthening both their lineup and defense, the San Francisco Giants have signed Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand to a five-year contract, club Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean announced. Per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.
The 30-year-old outfielder is coming off his finest big league campaign, when he earned his first Gold Glove and All-Star accolades while helping the Philadelphia Phillies to the National League East championship. Rowand hit .309 while establishing career standards with hits (189), runs (105), doubles (45), RBI (89), total bases (315), walks (47) and games (161). He also led National League center fielders with a .995 fielding percentage and 11 assists, while ranking second with an .885 zone rating.
"Aaron (Rowand) is an all-around player who is coming into his prime and helps us check off two boxes -- an extremely talented defensive center fielder and a middle of the order presence," said Sabean. "His ability in center field definitely plays to our ballpark and will help provide more stability to our pitching staff. His no nonsense approach on the field and in the clubhouse will be welcomed. Aaron is unquestionably a winning player"
Also named an All-Star by The Sporting News in 2007, he owns the highest career zone rating among active center fielders with a .902 mark and ranks eighth with a .989 fielding percentage.
"I've always admired Aaron from a far, but I got a chance to meet with him and work with him at the All-Star Game this year and was very impressed," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He is the type of player and person who will help bring that 'warrior mentality' we've talked about to the Giants."
Rowand's grit and determination became etched in baseball fans' minds when he crashed into the center field fence at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park at full speed to make a spectacular catch against the New York Mets May 11, 2006. For his trouble, he fractured his nose and bones around his left eye.
A .286 lifetime hitter over the first seven years of his big league career, the Portland, OR native has posted two seasons with 20 home runs, three campaigns with a batting average higher than .285 and three more with at least 30 doubles. The right-handed slugger has posted 419 runs, 166 doubles, 12 triples, 93 home runs, 347 stolen bases and 54 stolen bases in 849 games. In fact over his last four campaigns, he has hit at a .289 clip, while averaging 84 runs, 34 doubles, 19 home runs and 69 RBI in 142 contests per season Originally selected by the White Sox with the 35th overall pick in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, Rowand has seen big league action with Chicago-AL (2001-05) and Philadelphia (2006-07).
The 6-0, 200-pound outfielder has proven to be a clutch hitter, posting a .289 lifetime average with runners in scoring position (189-for-655) and a .291 mark with RISP and two outs (96-for-330). While hitting throughout the lineup during his career, Rowand has seen the majority of his at-bats come from the fifth spot (.301 hitter with 24 HRs, 97 RBI in 189 games).
The Cal-State Fullerton product has made two trips to the post season, including the White Sox' run to the 2005 World Championship. In 15 playoff games with Chicago and Philadelphia (2007), Rowand went 13-for-57 (.228) with nine runs scored, six doubles, a home run and four RBI.
While each of his previous two ballparks have been known as hitters paradises, Rowand has hit at a .289 lifetime clip (380-for-1,316) with 87 doubles, six triples, 37 home runs and 150 RBI in 413 road contests. He has posted a .283 career home average (381-for-1,348) with 221 runs, 79 doubles, six triples, 56 home runs and 197 RBI in 436 combined games at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Park and Citizens Bank Park. In seven contests at AT&T Park, the newest Giant is hitting .286 (8-for-28) with three doubles and five RBI.
With today's signing, the Giants now have 14 Gold Gloves up the middle of the diamond with catcher Bengie Molina (two awards), shortstop Omar Vizquel (11) and Rowand (one).