Twins acquire Boone from Mariners

Twins fill gap at second base<br>by acquiring Boone from Seattle

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hoping to get some pop into their lineup from a veteran bat, the Twins acquired second baseman Bret Boone and cash from the Mariners on Monday in exchange for a player to be named later.

Seattle designated Boone for assignment July 3 after he batted .231 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 74 games this season.

Although the 36-year-old Boone's offensive production has diminished the past two seasons, the Twins hope a change of scenery will benefit a player who has 252 lifetime home runs in 14 seasons, including a career-high 37 homers in 2001.

"We're having trouble scoring runs," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "Under the circumstances, we need to do something to help our offense. He certainly has a resume and has put up numbers."

Minnesota ranks 11th out of 14 American League clubs in runs scored and seventh in home runs. The second-place team is nine games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox, but holds a game and a half lead for the Wild Card berth.

When his career ended with the Mariners, Boone had a tear-filled goodbye with teammates and the media. But he said it didn't take long for him to set his sights toward the Twins and hoped a deal to the club would be worked out.

"[My agent] expected me to say New York or Boston, but I said Minnesota," Boone said Monday evening while on vacation in Las Vegas. "I had a good feeling. It seemed like a perfect fit.

"I've always respected the way they play the game."

With several players in everyday roles for the first time this season, the Twins' infield has struggled offensively and defensively while also being riddled with injuries. Three players have lost their starting jobs during the year, including Luis Rivas at second base. Rivas' replacement, Nick Punto, recently returned to action after he missed a month with a hamstring injury.

Punto will be displaced by Boone's arrival, but the former utility infielder could possibly surface at third base, at least until Michael Cuddyer returns from a hand injury. Cuddyer, who has also battled with inconsistency this season, is eligible to be activated Friday.

That decision ultimately belongs to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was spending the All-Star break on vacation in northern Minnesota. Gardenhire could not be reached for comment.

As a four-time AL Gold Glove winner, Boone should also be a good fit in the field with a Minnesota club that stresses pitching and defense. He said he is in good shape and believes his offensive problems to be mechanical, and not physical.

Two years ago, the Twins attempted to boose their offense during another All-Star break when they got left fielder and leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart from Toronto for outfielder Bobby Kielty. Stewart provided the necessary jolt and led Minnesota back to the playoffs.

Given his vastly different situation in Seattle, the expectations for Boone aren't as high. But the Twins didn't have to give up much to find out if he has something left.

"Hopefully a different environment will be good for him and good for us," Ryan said. "This is a low-risk, high-reward thing."

"I'm not going to set goals, numbers-wise," Boone said. "If I can get my swing going, I know I can hit 15-20 homers and drive in 50-60 runs in half a season. But I want to win. Whatever I can do to help this team win."

Minnesota will likely send Seattle a Minor League player after the season. The Mariners are still responsible for paying the balance of Boone's 2005 salary of $9.2 million. The Twins have to pay a prorated amount, in the $150,000 range, of the Major League minimum, which is $317,000.

Boone, who will join the Twins on Thursday after the break when they play the Angels, has also played for the Reds, Braves and Padres during his career. He's a three-time All-Star with a .266 lifetime average.

"It's a shot in the arm to go to a contender and a new atmosphere," Boone said. "Sometimes, change is good."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.