© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

11/01/08 8:16 PM EST

Ward files for free agency

Cubs' veteran pinch-hitter will test open market

CHICAGO -- Daryle Ward filed for free agency on Saturday, leaving the Cubs to weigh their options for left-handed pinch-hitting.

Ward hit .216 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 2008, reprising his role as an experienced bat off the bench. It marked a massive slide from 2007, when he batted .327 in his first season in Chicago.

The Cubs may be prepared to move on with Micah Hoffpauir in Ward's old role. Hoffpauir, also a left-handed first baseman/outfielder, hit .342 with Chicago in between stints with Triple-A Iowa this past season.

Ward, 33, is a career .263 hitter with six teams in 11 seasons.

Fellow 2008 Cubs Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Jim Edmonds, Bob Howry, Henry Blanco, Jon Lieber and Chad Fox also filed for free agency this week.

Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.