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12/17/11 6:57 PM EST

Whiteside returns to Giants with one-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO -- After apparently dismissing catcher Eli Whiteside earlier this week, the Giants welcomed him back Saturday by signing him to a one-year contract.

Whiteside, 32, appeared to be headed elsewhere after San Francisco officially declined to tender him a 2012 contract Monday, which cast him into free agency. But Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans explained that before the contract-tendering deadline expired, the club extended an offer to Whiteside, who ultimately accepted it.

Assuming Buster Posey recovers fully from his extensive left leg injuries, Whiteside will attempt to regain his role as San Francisco's No. 2 catcher. "It's a battle between him and [Chris] Stewart for the backup role," Evans said.

Whiteside batted .197 in 82 games this past season, including a National League-low .163 (17-for-104) after the All-Star break. That helped Stewart surpass him on the depth chart in Posey's absence.

Switch-hitting rookie Hector Sanchez, who entered Saturday hitting .357 for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, is likely to begin the season catching regularly for Triple-A Fresno to continue his development.

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