CLEARWATER, Fla. - If you want to know what it's like to be traded to the Phillies these days, just ask Ty Wigginton.
"I can't think of too many times in my life when I got off the phone that I had that big of a smile on my face," the utility infielder said recently from his North Carolina home.
Wigginton, 34, has good reason to smile.
In 10 big-league seasons, he has participated in zero postseason games. In fact, the vast majority of his baseball career has been spent playing for losing teams. Along the way, there were the 95-loss New York Mets in 2003, the 98-loss Baltimore Orioles in 2009, and the 101-loss Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2006.
The combined record of the teams Wigginton has played for during his career is 840-1,100.
"I think the most exciting part for me is the chance to win," he said. "It was one of the reasons I thought I signed with Colorado last year, but it just didn't work out.
"Now, here I am getting an opportunity with a Philadelphia team that won 100 games last year. Everybody knows about the starting pitching, and they've always had a lot of gamers and guys who play the game the right way."
Wigginton's desire to play the game the right way was one of the things that attracted the Phillies.
"The reason we targeted him is because across the board we've always thought of him as a perfect Philly-type guy," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said after arriving in Clearwater, where pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout Sunday. "I can remember [the late] John Vukovich talking about how much he liked him when he was with the Pirates. Our scouts throughout the years always talked about him, and Howie Freiling, our special-assignment scout, knows him really well."
Wigginton's versatility is another reason Amaro acquired him from the Rockies for a player to be named or cash.
"We wanted a guy with some thump off the bench who could play an extended period of time," Amaro said. "He gives us another dimension if [Placido Polanco] needs a blow or if we want him to fill in for Ryan [Howard] at first base. He can also play second base. In fact, some of our scouts think that might be his best position. We wanted someone who could give us a little more offense than Wilson Valdez in that role."
Amaro said he suspects Wigginton will get at least a few starts at first base while Howard recovers from foot surgery in April. Manager Charlie Manuel said he also is considering giving some playing time at first to Jim Thome and John Mayberry Jr.
"I think I'd rather have John Mayberry playing left field than anybody else, because he's the best defensive leftfielder we have," Amaro said. "But a lot of things will shake out in spring training. Charlie will make that decision."
Manuel also will make the decision about how often Wigginton gets to play, but that will be influenced by how well the veteran infielder plays.
"He could get anywhere from 200 to 400 at-bats depending on how things play out," Amaro said. "Ideally, he wouldn't play a ton, but we may be forced into it if we have injury issues to deal with. He just gives us some depth, and Charlie is all about performance."
Wigginton's greatest strength is his power. He has 158 career home runs and has hit 15 or more six times and 20 or more four times in his career. His best year may have been in 2008, when he batted .285 with a career-best .876 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and hit 23 home runs in 386 at-bats with the Houston Astros.
That was also the only season Wigginton ever experienced the joy of being on a winning team. And when that season ended, then-Astros general manager Ed Wade had to tell Wigginton he was being let go.
"He would have been a good fit with our 1993 club," said Wade, who is back working with the Phillies in a consultant role. "He would have fit in very well with that group of guys because of the way he plays. He has a presence in the clubhouse. He's a home-run threat, but he's not looking to hit a home run every time he goes up to the plate.
"I really like this guy. I clearly remember the night I had to call him and tell him he was going to be a non-tender for the Astros because of economics. It was a tough call to make."
Now, after getting one of the best phone calls of his life, Wigginton is eagerly awaiting the start of the 2012 season.
Watch video of fans on line Thursday to buy Phillies single-game tickets at www.philly.com/tixEndText