Helling invited to Twins' spring training

Updated: January 13, 2004, 1:50 PM ET
Associated Press

Free agent pitcher Rick Helling agreed to a one-year minor-league contract with the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

If Helling makes the Twins major-league roster out of spring training, he will make $600,000 in base salary with another $600,000 possible through incentives based heavily on starts and innings pitched.

The Twins lost three starters from last year's team that won the American League Central Division for the second straight year. Eric Milton was traded to Philadelphia, the team didn't re-sign free agent Kenny Rogers and Joe Mays will miss this season after having elbow surgery.

"They want me to come in and pick up one of the two spots in the rotation," Helling said. "Hopefully I can do that and help a good team to make the playoffs and do some damage in the playoffs."

Helling said he wanted to sign with a team that had a chance to make the postseason. That was more important than the money a team offered, he said.

"It wasn't about the money. I knew going into this that I wasn't going to make anywhere near what I made last year," Helling said. "I've been in the majors long enough that I wanted to find the right situation, where I could get a shot at being a starter on a team that had a chance to win."

Helling won a World Series ring last season with the Florida Marlins after joining the team in August, after he was released by the Baltimore Orioles. He signed with the Orioles just before spring training in February last year.

Helling began his big-league career with the Texas Rangers in 1994. He was traded to the Marlins in 1996 before being dealt back the Rangers in 1997. He played with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002.

Helling is 90-78 with a 4.77 earned run average in his career, including 8-8 with a 5.17 ERA in 155 innings last season. His best year was 1998, when he won 20 games with the Rangers in his first full year as a starter.

Helling and his agent had talks with several other team, which Helling declined to name.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press