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Ty Wigginton, Juan Samuel

Philadelphia Phillies' Ty Wigginton, right, is congratulated by third base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases after hitting a solo home run during the eight inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, May 24, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS • The Cardinals have found the veteran righthanded-hitting presence they sought for their bench.

The Cardinals signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal worth $5 million. The club announced the contract after Wigginton visited St. Louis this afternoon and passed a physical. The deal will pay the veteran utility fielder $2.5 million in 2013 and it is laced with performance bonuses. 

"I think just the way they play the game, first and foremost, made this an appealing fit for me," Wigginton said as he waited to board a flight back to his offseason home in North Carolina. Asked about moving into a new role as a bench option and backup at several positions, he said: "I'm excited for it. Early in my career, I didn't want to have that type of role, obviously, and I don't think I could have done well in that kind of role. I was looking for an opportunity to win.

"I look at my role as being able to help the team win anyway I can."

With Philadelphia last season, Wigginton hit .235 with a .314 on-base percentage and a .375 slugging percentage. In his career, he has a .438 slugging percentage and four times he's hit more than 20 homers in the season. The 35-year-old hit 11 home runs for the Phillies last season in a part-time role, while appearing at first base, third base, and the outfield.

The Cardinals sought a power presence from the right side for the bench, and they hoped that it would come with some seasoning. The position wasn't important, general manager John Mozeliak said earlier this season, but Wigginton's ability to play the corner positions and spell starters David Freese and Allen Craig is a plus.

The team's winter shopping list included a player who was experienced and comfortable coming off the bench late in games.

Wigginton hit all 11 of his home runs last season as a starter. In 41 pinch-hit appearances he hit .152/.293/.182. In his career he has just more than 100 at-bats as a pinch hitter and is a .233 hitter with a .350 slugging percentage.

He had had five consecutive seasons of at least 400 plate appearances before joining Philadelphia last season.

More as this story develops today at STLtoday.com.