By Paul Ladewski
CHICAGO - For the better part of the last two months, Matt Diaz heard his name a lot.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had made the veteran outfielder available in the trade market, not that he wanted to part company or anything.
Finally, his number was called in a waiver deal on Wednesday, when Diaz was sent to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a player to be named later or financial considerations.
Minor league outfielder John Bowker also was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for a player or a cash amount to be determined at a later date.
"This was the first time in my career that I actually picked where I wanted to play," said Diaz, 33, who was signed as a free agent last December. "It's more difficult on my family than me. We like it (in Pittsburgh). But I've been around long enough to understand that this kind of thing happens all the time."
At least the Diaz clan will be back in familiar territory. He spent five seasons with the Braves, with whom he hit .305 in 511 games and had the most success in his career.
Diaz never got untracked in a Pirates uniform. In 100 games, he had a .259 batting average and failed to hit a home run.
Specifically, team management extended a two-year, $4.25-million offer because of his track record against right-handed pitchers. After a slow start, he hit .295 against righties but drove in only eight runs in 105 at-bats.
The 28-year-old Bowker was a member of the Opening Day roster, but he was designated for assignment after only 19 at-bats off the bench.
After Bowker cleared waivers, the Pirates resigned him. The veteran put up impressive numbers for Triple A Indianapolis .306 batting average, 15 home runs and 76 RBI in 106 games but he had no future in the organization.
One year ago, Bowker was part of the trade that sent reliever Javier Lopez to the San Francisco Giants. Lopez received a World Series ring in the deal. Now Bowker has a chance to do the same in Philadelphia, where he is expected to compete with reserve Ross Gload for a spot on the postseason roster. He has a .301 batting average as a pinch-hitter in his major league career.