Sierra signs Minor League deal

Sierra signs Minor League deal

MINNEAPOLIS -- A left-handed bat off the bench was the last need that the Twins felt had to be addressed before the club headed to Spring Training. Now it appears that the club's final need has been filled.

On Tuesday, the Twins signed designated hitter Ruben Sierra to a one-year, Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 40-year-old Sierra played in 61 games for the Yankees last season, hitting .229 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 29 RBIs.

A switch-hitter with a .268 career batting average, Sierra spent most of 2004 and '05 providing the power for the Yankees off the bench. That type of experience in a pinch-hitting role was something that Twins general manager Terry Ryan was looking for and was happy to find in Sierra.

"He knows what the role is all about and he was the logical fit here for us," Ryan said. "We feel better about having a veteran guy like him come into the game to pinch-hit rather than exposing a young player in that position."

Sierra's power at the plate is also a strong point for a team that lacked run support last season. A four-time American League All-Star, Sierra has 15 career multi-homer games along with nine grand slams since he made his Major League debut in 1986. Sierra has amassed 1,318 RBIs over his career and his 306 career home runs rank sixth on the all-time list for homers by a switch-hitter.

"The guy has power and a history of doing the job well," Ryan said. "We're interested to see what he can bring to the table this spring."

Some of the concerns regarding Sierra have been his age and injury problems. Last season, Sierra was plagued by a bicep tear and hamstring problems that caused him to spend much of 2005 on the disabled list. The injuries appear to have healed and Sierra seems ready to show once again what he can bring to a team.

"Everything is 100 percent now," Sierra said on Tuesday afternoon. "Last year was a tough year for me due to all the injuries but now everything is back to being healthy and I'm looking forward to helping the club this season."

The Twins will be Sierra's ninth organization as he has also played for Texas, Oakland, Detroit, Cincinnati, Toronto, the White Sox and Seattle over his 19-year career. There were a few teams interested in the veteran hitter but his decision to sign with the Twins had a lot to do with what he felt the Twins could accomplish in 2006.

"I wanted to stay in the American League and I always liked this organization," Sierra said. "From what I've heard from all the players, manager Ron Gardenhire is super and the fans are great there too. This team has a good nucleus and a good chance to win and make the playoffs. Once you make the playoffs, you never know what can happen."

The Twins also announced on Tuesday that they have agreed to terms on Minor League contracts with pitchers Ryan Glynn and Pete Munro, and outfielder Tim Raines Jr. All three will report to Minor League Spring Training in March.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.