Astros sign IF Thurston to Minor League deal

HOUSTON -- The Astros have agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with infielder Joe Thurston, General Manager Ed Wade announced Sunday.

The deal includes an invite to the Astros Major League Spring Training camp.

The left-handed hitting Thurston, 32, has spent parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues in a utility role for the Dodgers (2002-04), Phillies (2006), Red Sox (2008), Cardinals (2009) and Marlins (2011). Most recently, he appeared in one game for the Marlins in 2011, starting at second base on August 5 vs. St. Louis (1x4 with a SB). Thurston spent virtually the entire 2011 season at Triple A New Orleans, where he hit .300 (136x453) in 126 games with 13 home runs, 59 RBI and 12 stolen bases. He also posted a club-best .388 on-base-pct.

He has appeared in 184 Major League games overall, posting a .226 (76x337) average with a home run and 25 RBI. Thurston spent the entire 2009 season with the Cardinals, where he appeared in 124 games in a utility role with 55 starts at third base and seven starts at second base.

In his minor league career, Thurston has played most of his games at second base, but has appeared at every position except first base, pitcher and catcher. He has a .294 average in 1,470 career minor league games and his hit .300 or better five times. Thurston was originally selected in the 4th round of the 1999 June Draft by the Dodgers.