CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik, a hero in the 2005 World Series who slumped last season, will be sidelined six weeks after having groin surgery, according to several reports.

The White Sox are also close to signing free agent Darin Erstad, the Chicago Tribune reported on its Web site Tuesday night.

Podsednik’s average dipped from .290 during the first World Series run for the White Sox in 88 years to .261 last season and his stolen bases dropped from 59 to 40. He hit a game-wining homer in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series against the Astros.

He agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the White Sox on Dec. 1.

Podsednik, a career .275 hitter, leads the major leagues with 169 steals over the last three seasons and made the AL American League All-Star in 2005.

He came to the White Sox in a trade from the Brewers for outfielder Carlos Lee in December 2004.

Erstad was hobbled by ankle problems last season and played only 40 games for the Angels. He is a career .286 hitter who can play all three outfield positions and first base. He would have to pass a physical before a deal is completed.

With Podsednik out, the White Sox could give top prospect Josh Fields, who’s played mostly at third base, a shot in the left field.

AP-ES-01-23-07 1904EST