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11/03/08 8:36 PM EST

Giants ink first baseman Phelps

Former Jay signs Minor League deal with Spring Training invite

SAN FRANCISCO -- Adding potential depth Monday, the Giants signed first baseman Josh Phelps to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training.

Phelps, 30, owns a .273 batting average with 64 home runs and 244 RBIs in 465 games spanning eight Major League seasons. He also has caught 12 games in the Majors and diversified himself further by playing outfield this year.

"He expanded himself as a player," said Phelps' agent, Steve Canter.

A right-handed batter, Phelps spent most of 2008 with St. Louis' Triple-A Memphis affiliate, batting .291 with 31 homers and 97 RBIs. He also hit .265 in 19 games for the Cardinals, who cast him into free agency by designating him for assignment.

"We had interest from several clubs, but we felt the Giants were the best fit," Canter said.

Phelps, 30, enjoyed his most productive span from 2002-04, when he hit 52 home runs, mostly for Toronto. He hit .309 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs in 74 games for the Blue Jays in 2002 and followed that with a .268 average, 20 homers and 66 RBIs with Toronto in 2003.

Although Phelps isn't the premier big bat the Giants seek, he could help them off the bench. He has hit .297 lifetime against left-handed pitchers, exceeding the .249 average the Giants recorded off lefties in 2008.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.