Pirates claim Thompson, sign Atkins

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have signed infielder Garrett Atkins to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Also on Thursday, Pittsburgh claimed lefty Aaron Thompson off waivers from the Nationals. Left-hander Wil Ledezma was designated for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Thompson.

The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or outright Ledezma to the Minors, if he clears waivers. The club had already signed Ledezma to a 2011 contract in order to avoid arbitration with the left-hander. He was expected to compete for a spot in the team’s bullpen this spring.

Thompson spent almost all of the 2010 season in Double-A, where he went 4-13 with a 5.80 ERA in 26 starts. The 23-year-old struck out 95 and walked 53 in 136 2/3 innings. He also made one start in Triple-A.

By agreeing to terms on a Minor League contract, Atkins is reunited with his former Colorado manager, Clint Hurdle. Atkins played for the Rockies from 2003-09, before signing as a free agent with the Orioles last December.

Atkins appeared in 44 games for Baltimore before getting released in July. He batted .214 with seven doubles, one homer and nine RBIs in 140 at-bats. In his seven seasons with the Rockies, Atkins hit .289 with a .354 on-base percentage. He hit 98 homers and 162 doubles in those 773 games.

Of the 781 games Atkins, 31, has played in his career, 642 of them have come as a third baseman. He has played 135 games at first, three in the outfield and one at second. The right-handed hitter will be competing to earn a spot on the Pirates’ roster as a back-up corner infielder.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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