Kubel signs minor league deal with Twins

The lefthanded outfielder will get a shot to make the team in spring training.


Twins Jason Kubel walked to the plate in the 2nd inning, August 25th, 2011.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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The Twins on Friday announced the signing of Jason Kubel to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, giving a player they drafted a chance to re-establish himself as a power hitting outfielder.

It’s a low-risk move for a club that’s searching for offensive help. Kubel likely won’t be the only hitter the Twins will bring in this offseason.

‘‘It seems like a logical decision to bring him in,’’ Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. ‘‘We’re looking for offense and he’s a veteran bat. He knows what the ballpark is all about and what the market is about. It made sense to bring him in.’’

Ryan said Kubel must be able to prove during spring training that he can play left and right field adequately in addition to hit. Ryan believes Kubel is athletic enough to be a solid defensive player.

But can he rediscover the swing that made him a dangerous hitter?

Kubel, 31, spent seven seasons with the Twins, hitting at least 20 home runs three times. His big season came in 2009, when he hit .300 with 28 home runs and 103 RBI. He was the first player to homer in Target Field when he went deep on Opening Day in 2010. Target Field was tough on him, as he admitted that he fell into bad habits trying to pull pitches over the overhang in right.

He hit .249 with 21 homers and 92 RBI that year. He was hobbled by injuries the next season, batting .273 with 12 homers and 58 RBI in 99 games. He signed with Arizona the next season and became a fan favorite as he hit 30 homers and drove in 90 runs to go with a .253 average.

He plummeted last season, batting .220 with five homers in 89 games before being dealt to Cleveland for the pennant drive. But he went just 3-for-18 in eight games.

So he’s back home, trying to get his groove back.

‘‘We’ll bring him into camp, see how he looks and go from there,’’ Ryan said.

The Twins returned from the winter meetings Friday with a few irons in the fire. They are expected to continue negotiations with free agent pitchers Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Pelfrey to see which one — or ones — they can land. They continue to look for offensive help as well as a veteran catcher.

Hendricks gone

Righthander Liam Hendricks was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. Hendricks was 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA in 47 innings last year.

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