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Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - Page updated at 06:45 PM

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Astros send minor leaguer to Padres for Randy Wolf

The Houston Astros, believing their season can still be saved, acquired pitcher Randy Wolf from San Diego on Tuesday in exchange for minor leaguer Chad Reineke.

AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON —

The Houston Astros, believing their season can still be saved, acquired pitcher Randy Wolf from San Diego on Tuesday in exchange for minor leaguer Chad Reineke.

Wolf, an NL All-Star in 2003, is 6-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts for the Padres this season. The 31-year-old is in his 10th season and will play for his fourth team. He previously played for Philadelphia (1999-2006) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2007) before joining the Padres this season.

The left-handed Wolf will start for the Astros in Milwaukee on Sunday, general manager Ed Wade said.

Wolf, in Cincinnati where the Padres were playing the Reds, was caught off-guard by the trade.

"When it ultimately happens, you're shocked a little bit," Wolf said. "I didn't really think about it. I think any team would have been, in some way, a surprise."

The Astros entered Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh with a 46-53 record, 12 games behind Chicago in the NL Central. Wade said the move shows the team isn't ready to give up on this season.

"We still think the club we have is good enough to play better than it's played," Wade said. "We've got a million games left in our own division at this point in time. Our fate rests in our hands and I think it's important for us to do whatever we can, from the baseball ops side, to give our guys as much support as we possibly can."

The Astros' pitching staff came into Tuesday's game with a 4.50 ERA, fourth-worst in the NL. The ace of the rotation, Roy Oswalt, has a 7-8 record and is currently on the disabled list with a strained hip and another regular starter, Brandon Backe, is 6-10 with a 4.79 ERA.

Padres general manager Kevin Towers said the Astros were intent on acquiring Wolf.

"Houston was pretty aggressive, probably more aggressive than any other club," Towers said.

Wade told Wolf that he still thinks Houston can turn things around.

"He still believes in the Astros," Wolf said. "I think he still thinks there's a shot. With a little more than two months left in the season, there's an opportunity there he's trying to take advantage of. He's not giving up hope. I'm up for the challenge."

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Wade was the Phillies' general manager from 1998-2005. He tried to sign Wolf for the Astros in December, but Wade said Wolf wanted to play closer to his home in California.

"I've known Randy since the day he signed his first professional contract," Wade said. "I can say without hesitation that he brings every quality that you'd want in a member of your team, both on and off the field."

Wolf had Tommy John surgery in 2005 and missed the second half of the 2007 season with pain in his throwing shoulder. His 21 starts this season were tied for the major-league lead and Wade has been assured by athletic trainers that Wolf is healthy.

"The feedback we got, trainer-to-trainer discussions that took place today, confirmed that he's 100 percent," Wade said.

Wolf has lost six of his last seven starts. He gave up four runs on eight hits in Saturday's 6-5 loss in St. Louis, his third straight road loss.

"In the time I had here, obviously we didn't win a lot of games," Wolf said. "Part of that is definitely my fault. I wasn't as consistent as I wanted to be. But I did have a great time here."

The deal gave the Padres the opportunity to get a prospect and save some money. Wolf signed a one-year contract last December that includes a $4.75 million base salary and a chance to make up to $9 million overall if he reaches all of his incentives.

"I'm not going to lie," Towers said. "Certainly from a financial standpoint, the club is going to save some money."

Reineke, a right-hander, is 5-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Round Rock this season. He was originally selected by the Astros in the 13th round of the 2004 draft and he is 28-32 with a 3.72 ERA in five minor league seasons in the Houston system. He has yet to pitch in a major league game.

Wolf will become a free agent after this season. Wade said Wolf could earn up to $3.5 million this season with performance bonuses and the Astros may look to re-sign him for 2009.

"If nothing else, this gives us the short-term help that we need," Wade said. "It also gives us an opportunity to get our foot in the door with Randy and if he pitches well enough that we want to extend the contract, all that's done against the backdrop of what's going to be a pretty thin pitching market out there."

Wolf said he'd also be interested in returning to San Diego next season, if the Padres would take another chance on him.

"I'm not leaving here with any sour taste in my mouth," he said. "I have a lot of good memories here."

---

AP Sports Writer Joe Kay contributed in Cincinnati.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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