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Deal for veteran Hinske finalized

Deal for veteran Hinske finalized

ATLANTA -- Braves general manager Frank Wren reconstructed his bullpen and altered the look of his lineup after depleting some of the excess depth in his rotation. Now with the signing of Eric Hinske, Wren has likely ended his offseason roster reconstruction process with a piece intended to upgrade his bench.

Hinske and the Braves agreed to the terms of a one-year, $1 million contract last week. The deal was finalized and announced on Tuesday afternoon after the completion of all necessary medical evaluations.

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"I'm pretty excited to be here," Hinske said after meeting with reporters at Turner Field on Tuesday afternoon. "The Braves made it known that they wanted me, and that was nice to see."

To make room for Hinske on the 40-man roster, the Braves designated Brandon Jones for assignment. Jones, a 26-year-old outfielder who was considered a solid prospect just two years ago, could be involved in a minor trade within the next week.

Hinske combined to hit .242 with eight homers and a .780 OPS in 190 at-bats with the Pirates and Yankees this past season. The 32-year-old veteran has been a member of each of the past three American League teams that have competed in the World Series.

"We're excited to sign a guy like [Hinske]," Wren said. "He can do a lot of things for your club."

Along with having the ability to play both corner-outfield positions, Hinske could also serve as a backup for newly signed first baseman Troy Glaus or third baseman Chipper Jones. While hitting .247 with 20 homers for the Rays in 2008, he made 84 of his 115 starts as an outfielder.

But Hinske, who who was named the AL's Rookie of the Year in 2002, will primarily serve as the left-handed bat that the Braves have been looking to add to their bench. In 124 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, Hinske has hit .255 with a .744 OPS. He hit .300 (9-for-30) with three doubles and seven walks in his 38 pinch-hit plate appearances during the 2009 season.

Hinske will essentially fill the void created by the departure of Greg Norton, who hit .162 (11-for-68) as a pinch-hitter this past season.

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

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