The NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds got Jim Edmonds from the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade for Chris Dickerson on Monday, strengthening their outfield for a playoff run.
The deal gives the Reds a proven outfielder as they try to fend off St. Louis and reach the playoffs for the first time since 1995. The Reds led the Cardinals by two games heading into their three-game showdown in Cincinnati starting Monday night.
Edmonds was in the starting lineup in center field, batting fifth against Chris Carpenter. Manager Dusty Baker envisions a part-time role for the 40-year-old outfielder, who seemed invigorated by the chance to be part of another playoff chase.
Milwaukee was third in the division at the time of the trade, 11 games out. The Reds are in a two-team race with St. Louis, which was Edmonds' team from 2000-07.
"I don't know what to say," Edmonds said. "It's been a quick 24 hours. To go from kind of the bottom of the standings to the top in a hurry and show up here playing the Cardinals — it's going to be a little nuts."
In the past year, the Reds have fortified themselves by acquiring former Cardinals. General manager Walt Jocketty, who rebuilt St. Louis into a championship team from 1995-2007, has turned to his former players to try to restore the Reds.
Jocketty traded for third baseman Scott Rolen last season, a move that gave the Reds a veteran leader and another hitting threat. He signed reliever Jason Isringhausen to a minor league deal last month, hoping he can help Cincinnati's bullpen down the stretch.
Now, he's adding a Cardinals touch to the outfield.
"It's guys that I know that are good players still and can contribute," Jocketty said. "I think everyone we've acquired has done a good job, and I think this is a guy that will do the same."
The Reds' offense has struggled with two young outfielders — Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce — counted upon heavily this season. Stubbs has started only one of the last seven games. He's batting .234 with 14 homers and leads the team with 112 strikeouts. Bruce is batting .258 with only 10 homers.
Baker plans to start Edmonds occasionally. Edmonds has been limited by a sore right Achilles' tendon.
"He's somebody that can probably contribute a couple days a week and somebody that can tutor the young outfielders," Baker said. "He can still play."
Edmonds was out of baseball last year, his career on hold because of injuries. He wanted to play for the Cardinals again, but ended up signing with the Brewers during spring training. He makes $850,000 with the chance for another $1.75 million in bonuses.
Edmonds batted .286 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 73 games for the Brewers. His stint in Cincinnati could amount to a final go-around — he talked recently about retirement because years of injuries have taken a toll.
"I said to him a number of times: I hope he doesn't retire after this year's over because I think he still has some gas in the tank," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Edmonds beat the Reds with a pinch-hit homer off Bronson Arroyo in Milwaukee on July 26. He's been limited by the Achilles' problem since early July.
"I think I mentioned after he hit the home run off Arroyo after the game that this guy's got a great feel for the game," Macha said. "He studies pitchers, knows the situation. That's a veteran guy that I hope our younger guys listened to."
Dickerson has missed most of the season because of a broken bone in his right hand that required surgery. He batted .205 in 20 games before being injured. He has been on a rehabilitation assignment in the minors.
To open a roster spot for Edmonds, the Reds optioned left-hander Travis Wood to Triple-A Louisville. The rookie has been one of the Reds' most consistent starters, but was going to have to miss his next turn in the rotation because the Reds have two days off in the next week.
The Reds plan to have Wood make one start in the minors, then bring him back when he's needed again.
AP Sports Writer Colin Fly and freelance writer Joe Totoraitis in Milwaukee contributed to this report.