Yankees sign Ben Francisco to Minor League deal

03/11/2013 4:41 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Ben Francisco was 8-for-20 with five walks for the Indians this spring.(AP)
The New York Yankees signed outfielder Ben Francisco to a Minor League deal on Monday, adding another right-handed bat to the outfield mix.

Francisco, 31, had been with Cleveland, who signed him to a Minor League deal in January, but opted out of his deal and was released by the team Monday morning. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman struck quickly and confirmed the signing during the Yankees’ 4-0 win over the Cardinals Monday afternoon, saying that the team had long had its eye on Francisco.

“We struck out on him as a non-roster invite this winter (and he went) to Cleveland,” Cashman said. “Since then, Cleveland signed Swish, signed Michael Bourn … circumstances and opportunities over there may have changed for him, and circumstances and opportunities here have opened up.”

Francisco was having a strong spring for the Indians, hitting .400 in 20 at-bats with six doubles and five walks. He immediately flew to Tampa to join the Yankees after signing, and Cashman said that Francisco will get an immediate look in the team’s search for a short-term replacement for Curtis Granderson.

“He could become a quality bench guy for us,” Cashman said of Francisco. “I think he’s definitely worthy for competition, so that’s what we’re going to take a look at.”

Francisco played for three teams in 2012, hitting .240 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 82 games (207 plate appearances) with Tampa Bay, Toronto and Houston, and is a .257 career hitter over six seasons who has experience at all three outfield positions.

He also has the honor of having scored the first official run at the new Yankee Stadium, a tally plated on Kelly Shoppach's fourth-inning double in the Indians' win over the Yankees on April 16, 2009.

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