Another piece of the 2002 World Series squad has been lost as Darin Erstad signed a one-year deal with an option for 2008 to play for the White Sox.
Two sources within the Chicago organization confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Erstad agreed to terms with the club pending a physical to be conducted later in the week. A Gold Glover for the Angels at two positions, center field and first base, Erstad is projected to provide relief at both spots: as a left-handed backup to Brian Anderson in center and Paul Konerko at first.
Drafted first overall by the Angels in 1995, Erstad leaves with something to prove, at least to himself. The 32-year-old was limited to 40 games in 2006 and appeared over the last month of the season simply as a defensive replacement at first base. Bone spurs slowed Erstad during Spring Training and sent him to the disabled list twice during the year. He had surgery in the offseason.
Erstad hit .221 with no homers and five RBIs over 40 games in a year that initially saw him return to center so the Angels could elevate Casey Kotchman to first base. Neither move worked as Kendry Morales and Howie Kendrick drew most of the starts at first after Kotchman was sidelined with mononucleosis and Chone Figgins took over in center when Erstad's ankles prevented him from doing much beyond a casual jog.
Tim Salmon retired at the end of last season and Adam Kennedy signed with the Cardinals. Other key players from the Angels' championship season to have moved on include David Eckstein, Jarrod Washburn, Troy Glaus, Bengie Molina and Scott Spiezio, but Erstad will be remembered by most fans for his leave-nothing-on-the-field approach to the game.
A punter on Nebraska's 1994 national championship team, Erstad always maintained the edge of a football player and hit .299 with 34 doubles, 16 homers and 77 RBIs in 1997, his first full season with the Angels. He put together his finest year in 2000, when he hit .355, including a Major League-high 240 hits, and won his first Gold Glove.
Personal glories aside, Erstad reached the pinnacle of his sport along with the rest of his Angels teammates when the franchise won the World Series title in a seven-game series over the Giants in 2002. Erstad is remembered for catching the final out of the series, but he also tied a record with 25 postseason hits and led the Angels with a .352 average in the playoffs.
Erstad also won a Gold Glove Award for his play in center that season and added a third in 2004, that year as a first baseman.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.