The Blue Jays rid themselves of Shea Hillenbrand, who had been designated for assignment after run-ins with manager John Gibbons and general manager J.P. Ricciardi, in a July 22 trade with the Giants. Hillenbrand and righthanded reliever Vinnie Chulk were sent to the Giants in exchange for righthander Jeremy Accardo, who is also a reliever.
Hillenbrand was unhappy about not being congratulated by team brass for adopting a child and for not being in the lineup in his first two games back after his adoption leave. He allegedly wrote the “ship was sinking” on a team message board, and was challenged to a fight by Gibbons in a subsequent team meeting. Despite his recent flare up, Hillenbrand, 30, has been a solid major league contributor, owner of a career .289/.328/.450 line in six seasons, and can play both corner infield spots, though he’™s seen more time at first base the past four seasons, and figures to play that position for the Giants. Hillenbrand, 30, lacks the power of a prototypical first baseman, as his season high for home runs is 18.
His departure from the Red Sox, Hillenbrand’s first club, in 2003 was also tumultuous. He challenged general manager Theo Epstein to trade him (and called him a derogatory name) during a radio interview.
Chulk, the reliever headed to the Giants, established himself in 2005 when he appeared in 62 games for the Blue Jays, posting a 3.88 ERA. His strikeout numbers were pedestrian for a prominent middleman, though, (just 39 in 72 innings, with nine home runs allowed) and this season he had been optioned twice to Triple-A Syracuse despite key injuries to the Blue Jays pitching staff. Chulk, 27, relies on a sinking fastball and a slider and will likely benefit from the switch in leagues.
Accardo relies on a 90-94 mph fastball which he locates well and delivers with an easy motion and a slider. The 24-year-old righthander had ascended to eighth-inning duties with the Giants this season after debuting with the club just last season. Accardo has been much tougher on lefthanded batters early in his career, holding them to a .202 average compared with .280 to righthanders. The Giants signed Accardo, who also played shortstop at Illinois State, as a nondrafted free agent in 2003.