Twins hope Crede will fill hole at third

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins finally made a big move. After sitting idle for more than four months following a season in which they lost to the Chicago White Sox in a one-game playoff for the AL Central title, the Twins agreed to terms...

Joe Crede

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins finally made a big move.

After sitting idle for more than four months following a season in which they lost to the Chicago White Sox in a one-game playoff for the AL Central title, the Twins agreed to terms with free-agent third baseman Joe Crede on a one-year deal on Saturday.

Crede's one-year deal has a base salary of $2.5 million with the chance to earn as much as $7 million with appearance bonuses. The bonuses begin once Crede reaches 250 plate appearances and tops out at $7 million when he makes his 525th plate appearance.

Provided Crede's back holds up, he will fill a major need for the Twins as a power-hitting third baseman who also has a great glove.

"We've been looking for a corner guy. You always look to upgrade, see if you can get an impact player," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I mean, we went into the spring looking for one and this is the guy. This is the guy that we talked about way, way back. This guy, if he's healthy, can do a lot of damage."


The Twins entered this spring having not made a single significant move to improve a team that lost to Crede's White Sox 1-0 in a one-game playoff for the division title.

General manager Bill Smith and assistant GM Rob Antony negotiated off and on with Crede's agent, Scott Boras, for more than two months without reaching a deal.

"We've been thinking about this guy for a while, never knowing whether it was going to work out or not. But it finally has," Gardenhire said. "When his name was out there recommended, I said yeah, I would love to have this guy. Absolutely."

Crede has had two major back surgeries in the past two seasons. He hit .248 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs last season for the White Sox. But the All-Star played sparingly in the second half because of recurring back trouble, which limited him to 47 games in 2007.

* The Twins held their first full-squad workout of spring training on Saturday, and Gardenhire liked what he saw.

"Everything went good, pitchers out there throwing, getting to see some arms somewhere other than the bullpen, some guys swinging off live pitching, which is always entertaining," Gardenhire said. "Everything seemed to roll right along."

The day started off with the traditional "Good Morning America" drill, a demanding exercise that concentrates on the fundamentals of the game. From there it went to live batting practice.

"Everything went good, and we got done about the same time on all three fields, so I liked it," Gardenhire said. "I liked it a lot."


Even former Twin Corey Koskie took part in some batting practice, hoping to hone himself for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He hasn't played since suffering a severe concussion in 2006.

Russell to managePirates in 2010

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up manager John Russell's contract option for 2010 despite going 67-95 in his first season.

The 48-year-old Russell, a former major league catcher, replaced Jim Tracy on Nov. 5, 2007. Tracy was let go after the Pirates lost 189 games in 2006 and 2007. Russell's contract was for two seasons, with the option for 2010.

Russell is the Pirates' fourth manager since 1997.

Rangers sign Benson

Right-hander Kris Benson, the first pick in the 1996 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a minor league contract Saturday with the Texas Rangers.

Benson reported to camp as a non-roster invitee. The Rangers, who are looking to add depth to their rotation, worked out Benson earlier in the week.


Benson, 34, last pitched in the majors in 2006, going 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA for Baltimore. He has a career record of 68-73 with a 4.34 ERA with the Pirates, Orioles and Mets.

He missed the 2007 season after having surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff.

Indians' DellucciinjureS thumB on tailgate

While packing for spring training, Cleveland Indians outfielder David Dellucci slammed his thumb in a trailer tailgate at his home in Baton Rouge, La., requiring stitches. Dellucci, who throws left-handed, will miss the start of the Cactus League season. But he is expected to get the stitches taken out on Monday and should be up to speed within a week.

arbitration players average 172 percent rise

Nick Markakis and Ervin Santana received the steepest raises among the 111 players in salary arbitration, a group that overall earned a record increase of 172 percent, according to a study by the Associated Press.

The rise broke the previous mark of 169 percent set in 1999 and was up sharply from last year's 120 percent hike, partly because the arbitration group started out with a lower average. The 111 players in this year's filing class rose to an average of $3.07 million from $1.13 million.

Last year, the 110 players in arbitration jumped to $3.04 million from $1.38 million. The record average of $3.26 million was set in 2004.


Markakis received a 24-fold increase, from $455,000 last year to an average of just more than $11 million under a $66.1 million, six-year deal Baltimore gave the outfielder.

Santana got a 16-fold rise, from $445,000 last season to a $7.5 million average under a $30 million, four-year contract.

Fourteen players received multiyear contracts, two fewer than last year but matching 2007's figure.

Among the players who filed, just 46 swapped proposed figures with their teams Jan. 20 and just three cases went to hearings this month.

What To Read Next
Get Local