Astros bring back OF Hidalgo

Updated: July 12, 2007, 10:20 AM ET

HOUSTON -- Richard Hidalgo is returning to the place he's had his most success.

Hidalgo, who did not play in the major leagues last season, signed a minor league contract with the Houston Astros on Friday with an invitation to spring training.

Originally signed as a free agent by the Astros out of his native Venezuela in 1991, Hidalgo hit .278 with 134 home runs and 465 RBIs in eight seasons with Houston before being traded to the New York Mets in 2004.

"We are very pleased to bring an original Astro and former team MVP back to the organization," Houston general manager Tim Purpura said. "For eight seasons, Richard was a constant force in our lineup, and we look forward to giving Richard the opportunity to attempt to earn a role on our club in 2007."

Houston has free-agent acquisition Carlos Lee in left field and a platoon of Jason Lane and Luke Scott in right, where Hidalgo starred during his previous stint with the club.

One year after earning team MVP honors, Hidalgo struggled with the Astros in 2004, batting .256 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 58 games. After the trade for pitchers Jeremy Griffiths and David Weathers on June 17, the righthanded hitter belted 21 shots in 86 contests with the Mets but hit just .228.

Hidalgo signed with the Texas Rangers for 2005 and hit .221 with 16 blasts and 43 RBIs. He currently is batting .273 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 187 at-bats in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Hidalgo had a breakout campaign in 2000, when he hit .314 with 44 homers and 122 RBIs in 153 games, becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to post 30 homers, 100 runs and 100 RBIs in one season. He hit .309 with 28 homers and 88 RBIs in 2003.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index