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Twins agree to terms with catcher Doumit

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By Jon Krawczynski

AP Baseball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Coming off another injury-shortened season, Ryan Doumit was looking for a chance to get a lot of at-bats and show everyone that he can make it through an entire season healthy.

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So he chose the Minnesota Twins, who are desperate to add some offensive punch behind Joe Mauer at catcher and also have room for him in the outfield and at designated hitter.

The Twins on Wednesday agreed to terms on a $3 million, one-year deal with the former Pirates catcher who played in only 77 games last year because of a broken left ankle.

Doumit has had trouble staying on the field during his seven seasons in the league, but when he has been healthy he has proven to be a dependable offensive threat. The 30-year-old Doumit hit .303 with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 77 games for the Pirates last season. He can also play in the outfield, DH and work his way in at first base in a pinch, giving the Twins some much-needed versatility.

"I looked at it as an opportunity to be versatile, catch a little bit, DH a little bit, maybe play a little outfield," said Doumit, who also had an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers. "An opportunity to stay healthy and get some at-bats. ... It's something that I was very excited about."

Doumit said he was looking for a one-year deal to give him the chance to increase his stock by showing that injuries are behind him. He has topped 80 games in a season just three times.

"I kind of look at it like freak things," Doumit said. "I don't think it has anything to do with conditioning and I don't think it has anything to do with anything other than this is a rough game and I play a rough position. ... That's what we sign up for (as catchers). And I'm certainly not going to shy away from that."

The Twins know all about the toll that playing the position can take.

Joe Mauer only played in 82 games last season due to a mix of leg injuries and illness, and the Twins are hopeful but still unsure of how their franchise player will bounce back next season.

"I'm very excited. He's the best in the business," Doumit said of Mauer. "It doesn't get much better than him. It'll be nice to pick his brain a little bit and bounce ideas off each other. I'm very excited to team up with him and hopefully we can learn a lot from each other."

With Mauer on the DL, backup catchers Drew Butera (.167) and Rene Rivera (.141) were liabilities on offense, which prompted GM Terry Ryan to go looking for an upgrade on the open market.

"We just didn't have enough depth in offense out of the position when Joe went down," Ryan said.

The Twins also have a hole in right field at the moment, with free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel not expected to return next season. Doumit could fill in there as well, though Ryan said the Twins signed him as a catcher "first and foremost."

Doumit's versatility allows for the possibility the Twins will keep three catchers on the 25-man roster next season, meaning Butera's days with the team aren't necessarily numbered. The Twins still think highly of Butera's defensive abilities.

"Butera has got a little more polish defensively and Ryan has a lot more polish offensively," Ryan said.

The Twins are still considering all their options for outfield spots -- including Cuddyer and Kubel -- as well as looking for a new closer now that Joe Nathan has signed with the Texas Rangers. Ryan said they do not want to give the job to setup man Glen Perkins, arguably the Twins' best pitcher last season, because he does not have the experience of closing games.

Ryan also said the team is offering arbitration to Cuddyer and Kubel, who are expected to reject it in favor of getting long-term deals on the open market. The team does not have to offer reliever Matt Capps arbitration thanks to a rule change in the new collective bargaining agreement.

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