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12/15/2006 1:23 PM ET
Free agent Daryle Ward agrees to one-year deal with Cubs
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The Chicago Cubs and free agent first baseman and outfielder Daryle Ward today agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for the 2008 season.

Ward, a 31-year-old left-handed hitter, led Major League pinch-hitters with 17 RBI and a .645 slugging percentage in 2006 while his four pinch homers were tied with Cincinnati's Javier Valentin for the most in baseball. He was tied for second with a .440 on-base percentage as a pinch-hitter while his .355 batting average (22-for-62) in a pinch role was fourth in baseball.

Overall, Ward batted .308 (40-for-130) last season in 98 combined games between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves. He hit .371 (13-for-35) with runners in scoring position, and that average increased to .412 (7-for-17) with runners in scoring position and two outs. Ward hit .377 (29-for-77) with six of his seven homers coming in the seventh inning or later.

Ward was hitting .308 (32-for-104) in 78 games for the Nationals last season when he was traded to Atlanta on August 31 in exchange for right-handed pitcher Luis Atilano. Ward went on to bat .308 (8-for-26) in 20 appearances for the Braves.

Originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 15th round of the 1994 First-Year Player Draft, Ward's nine career pinch home runs rank tied for seventh among active Major Leaguers while his 61 career pinch-hits ranks eighth. He owns a .262 career batting average (530-for-2,022) with 83 home runs and 343 RBI in nine seasons with the Astros (1998-2002), Dodgers (2003), Pirates (2004-2005), Nationals (2006) and Braves (2006).

Ward, who appeared in the NL Division Series with Houston in 1999 and 2001, has a .993 career fielding percentage (13 E/1,826 TC) in 241 games at first base, and has also seen time in left field (238 games) and right field (41 games). In 2002, he recorded nine of his 13 career outfield assists while patrolling left field for Houston.

Daryle Ward will be available today at 2 p.m. CT via an AT&T conference call. The call-in number is 866-285-7778, and the passcode is 5811531. Radio stations may not go live with the call, and it would be appreciated if media can mute their phone when not asking questions.

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