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D'BACKS SEND KIM TO BOSTON FOR HILLENBRAND

PHOENIX -- Shea Hillenbrand is going home to Arizona, and Byung-Hyun Kim might be headed back to the bullpen -- in Boston.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had to bolster their creaky offense to have any hope of defending their NL West title. The Boston Red Sox were looking for a pitcher in their bid to stay atop the AL East.

Both addressed those needs Thursday in a deal that sent the Red Sox All-Star third baseman to Arizona for the South Korean sidearm right-hander.

Hillenbrand, 27, grew up in nearby Mesa and his parents still live there.

He will be the everyday third baseman ahead of Matt Williams, and will fill in some at first.

"This is a player we think will help us score runs," Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said, "and that's what we need to do to have any real success the rest of this season."

Kim, who had a club-record 36 saves as a closer last season but got his wish to become a starter this year, will start Tuesday against Pittsburgh but could be used out of the bullpen this weekend in Toronto.

"Kim is an impact pitcher as either a starter or a closer," Boston general Theo Epstein said. "Long-term, we view him as a starter, but based on the makeup of this club, there may be a time we need him to close."

Kim never liked being a closer, but said he would do whatever the Red Sox needed.

"I really love to be a starting pitcher," he said through an interpreter in a conference call Thursday night, "but if the team needs me in a closing role, I am willing to do it."

Boston manager Grady Little said that Kim could be the closer once ace Pedro Martinez returns "and all our pitchers are healthy."

"We're going to use Kim in the role that's going to help us win the most ballgames," Epstein said.

Kim said he wore a Red Sox cap in South Korea and, when he was 16, pitched in an international tournament at Fenway Park.

"I really liked the Green Monster and the rich tradition at the stadium," he said, "and I was very impressed with it."

Hillenbrand will join the Diamondbacks in San Diego, where Arizona opens a four-game series against the Padres on Friday night. The Diamondbacks lost two straight in San Francisco to fall 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants.

"Pretty clearly, we need the offensive help, and we need it sooner rather than later," Garagiola said. "We've played what, 53 games, now. You keep saying 'Well, there's a lot of time left,' but every day there's less time left."

Hillenbrand is batting .308 with 38 RBIs. Luis Gonzalez leads the Diamondbacks with 29 RBIs. Hillenbrand's should provide protection for Gonzalez and the other left-handed hitters who dominate the Arizona lineup. Williams bats right-handed but is hitting just .241 with 16 RBIs.

Hillenbrand will give the Diamondbacks a right-handed option at first base, where rookie Lyle Overbay and Mark Grace both bat left-handed.

"He's a run-producer. He drives in runs," Garagiola said.

TRADING PLACES

To Boston

Byung-Hyun Kim

Year, Team IP W- L Sv ERA

1999, Arizona 27.1 1- 2 1 4.61

2000, Arizona 70.2 6- 6 14 4.46

2001, Arizona 98.0 5- 6 19 2.94

2002, Arizona 84.0 8- 3 36 2.04

2003, Arizona 43.0 1- 5 0 3.56

Totals 323.0 21-22 70 3.26

Division Series

Year, Team IP W- L Sv ERA

2001, Arizona vs. St. Louis 1.1 0- 0 1 0.00

2002, Arizona vs. St. Louis 1.0 0- 0 0 18.00

Totals 2.1 0- 0 1 7.71

League Championships Series

Year, Team IP W- L Sv ERA

2001, Arizona vs. Atlanta 5.0 0- 0 2 0.00

World Series

Year, Team IP W- L Sv ERA

2001, Arizona vs. NY Yankees 3.1 0- 1 0 13.50

To Arizona

Shea Hillenbrand

Year, Team AB R H HR RBI Avg

2001, Boston 468 52 123 12 49 .263

2002, Boston 634 94 186 18 83 .293

2002, Boston 185 20 56 3 38 .303

Totals 1287 166 365 33 170 .284

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