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01/29/09 4:16 PM EST

Astros ink Newhan to Minors deal

Veteran infielder invited to big league Spring Training camp

HOUSTON -- As expected, the Astros inked infielder David Newhan to a Minor League contract on Thursday, and invited him to Spring Training.

Newhan, 35, will compete for a job as a backup infielder, and because he's mainly a second baseman, he has a good chance to not only make the team, but to receive ample playing time. Oft-injured second baseman Kazuo Matsui played in only 96 games in 2008, forcing the team to turn to its backups to absorb the remainder of the playing time.

Additionally, Matsui has averaged 89 games per season over the past four years.

Newhan hit .260 with two home runs and 12 RBIs over 64 games for the Astros in 2008. He has played in 413 Major League games over eight seasons, hitting .253 with 23 home runs and 120 RBIs.

Tommy Manzella, Edwin Maysonet and Drew Sutton, along with non-roster invitees Mark Saccomanno, John Gall, Chris Johnson, Matt Kata and Jason Smith, are among the remaining infielders who are also expected to compete for backup infield jobs during Spring Training this year.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.