SEATTLE (AP) — Eric Byrnes does not care what his role becomes. Just hearing Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik say he believes Byrnes can still contribute after two injury-plagued season was good enough.
Seattle added a needed, veteran right-handed bat to its roster signing Byrnes to a one-year deal on Friday two weeks after he was let loose by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Once I talked to Jack I knew this was the right fit. It was just a matter of figuring out what other opportunities I had out there," Byrnes said. "Right away I just felt that this was the place I felt like I could contribute."
And he comes at a fantastic price for the Mariners if Byrnes can come close to his 2007 production when he hit .286 with 21 homers and 83 RBIs. Arizona owed him $11 million from the final season of a $30 million contract, and any team could sign him for the $400,000 minimum, with the Diamondbacks responsible for the remainder.
If he gets enough playing time to come close to those numbers will depend on how Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu ultimately uses Byrnes. He gives Seattle another option in an outfield that includes Ichiro Suzuki in right, Franklin Gutierrez in center and likely Milton Bradley in left. Or Byrnes could find himself in a designated hitter platoon with Ken Griffey Jr. depending on who is on the mound.
"My play will dictate the amount of playing time I'm warranted," Byrnes said. "One of the things Jack and I talked about ... I'm not going to complain. I've had plenty of time on the bench and I know how to deal with that role. That's not a big deal to me. It's about taking advantage of whatever opportunity I have."
Byrnes, who will turn 34 on Feb. 16, is coming off two injury filled seasons that he admits caused him to lose his desire for the game. He ripped out his hamstring during the 2008 season, playing just 52 games for the Diamondbacks a year after they reached the NL championship series. Byrnes says the hamstring was just getting back to health last year when he broke his left hand.
He hit just .226 in 84 games last year and it was a rehab stint at Triple-A Reno that finally got Byrnes energized again. His conversations with Zduriencik only reaffirmed his desire to keep playing.
"I just needed a team to believe in me half as much as I believe in myself," Byrnes said. "Speaking to Jack, that's what I felt."
For his career, Byrnes is a .260 hitter with 189 doubles, 30 triples and 109 homers. His best seasons were in Arizona in 2006 and 2007 when he hit 47 homers, 67 doubles and drove in 163 runs combined over the two seasons.
To clear a 40-man roster spot for Byrnes, the Mariners designated Tommy Everidge for assignment. The Mariners now have 10 days to trade, release or send Everidge outright to the minors. Everidge was claimed on waivers by Seattle from Oakland earlier this month.
"We think Eric is a great fit for our team," Zduriencik said in a statement. "He is a high-energy player with a veteran presence. We look forward to him competing for a spot on our roster when spring training starts."