Twins sign catcher Doumit to one-year deal
Seven-year veteran to serve as Mauer's backup behind plate
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins officially signed free-agent catcher Ryan Doumit to a one-year deal worth $3 million on Wednesday after he passed his physical earlier this week.
Doumit, who will back up Joe Mauer, spent all seven of his previous Major League seasons with the Pirates.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Doumit was signed as a backup catcher, but will also see time at first base, designated hitter and in the outfield.
"First and foremost, we consider Ryan a catcher," Ryan said in a conference call. "He has switch-hit capabilities. As you know, last year, we didn't have the offense or depth when Joe went down. So it's an added bonus that he's athletic enough to play the outfield and can certainly DH."
Doumit said he's open to playing multiple positions, indicating that he feels most comfortable at catcher and in the outfield, and that he needs more reps at first base before he feels fully comfortable there. In his seven-year career, Doumit has caught 426 games while playing 60 games in right field and 35 games at first base.
"I looked at it as an opportunity to be versatile, and to be able to catch a little bit, DH a little bit and play some outfield," Doumit said. "It's also an opportunity to stay healthy, first and foremost, and to be able to get some at-bats. I also wanted a chance to be a part of a winning club."
Doumit said he had other clubs vying for his services, but that he was intrigued by playing in the American League and that the Twins were a fit because of their success in recent years despite their 99-loss season in '11. Doumit also added he has a history with the club, as he used to work out near the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., and got to know Justin Morneau and Mauer.
"The reputation of it being a class organization and a winning organization is something I'm very excited to be a part of," Doumit said. "I took a tour of the field the other day, and I thought we had it good in Pittsburgh, but the stadium and field here are top-notch. I wish it was March already."
Doumit batted .303 with a .353 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage with eight home runs and 30 RBIs while being limited to 77 games for the Pirates in a 2011 season that was marred by a left-ankle fracture he suffered during a home-plate collision in May with the Cubs' Carlos Pena.
Lifetime for Pittsburgh, Doumit was a .271 hitter with 67 homers, 266 RBIs and a .334 on-base percentage. Before his departure, he was the longest-tenured player in that organization.
He said he's looking forward to a healthy 2012 season, as he said he had some bad luck with his fractured left ankle in '11 and a concussion in '10.
"I kind of look at it as freak things," Doumit said. "I don't think it had anything to do with conditioning or anything other than the fact that it's a rough game and I play a rough position. It's a rough game and I play a rough position. I chalk it up to that. I certainly don't dwell on injuries."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.