<
>

Twins receive Boone, cash for player to be named

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bret Boone wanted a chance to jump-start his
career, and the Minnesota Twins found a proven veteran for their
unproductive infield.

This should be a good fit for the second half of the season.

Boone, a three-time All-Star second baseman, was acquired by the
Twins on Monday -- eight days after being dumped by the Seattle
Mariners.

"I'm not saying that Bret Boone is going to be a savior, but he
might be a guy that can help," Minnesota general manager Terry
Ryan said. "There's a lot at stake for him, obviously."

The Mariners had designated the 36-year-old Boone for
assignment, which meant they had 10 days to trade him before he
became a free agent. They will pay the balance of his $9.25 million
salary, minus the prorated portion of the major league minimum
salary (approximately half of $316,000) that the Twins will pick
up. Minnesota is also on the hook for a player to be named.

"This is a high-reward, low-risk situation," Ryan said. "I
don't think there's any downside."

Boone's career in Seattle peaked in 2001, when he finished third
in the AL MVP vote and batted .331 with 118 runs, 37 homers and 141
RBI for a club that won 116 games and lost in the league
championship series to the New York Yankees. Though he won his
fourth Gold Glove last season, Boone began to slump while the
Mariners did, too. They went 63-99, their worst record since 1983.

This year, Seattle is 39-48 at the break -- the third-worst mark
in the AL -- and 12½ games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL
West. Boone was batting .231 with seven homers and 34 RBI.

The Mariners' decision to get rid of him stung, bringing him to
tears after finding out July 3. But with the Twins, Boone will see
significant playing time and get to be part of a pennant race
again.

Boone said he told agent Adam Katz that the Twins were his first
choice, which is how he said he felt about the Mariners before
signing with them in 2000.

"I was a part of a lot of fun things, but it was my time to
move on," Boone said.

Though the Twins are nine games behind the Chicago White Sox in
the AL Central, they're currently leading the wild card race with a
48-38 record. Having won three straight division titles, Minnesota
doesn't want to settle for that, which is why Ryan made a move.

"I think it's apparent that we need something to happen," he
said. "We need to get going here. Just watching us score two and
three runs a game, it's getting old."

Second base has been a particular problem for the Twins, with
Luis Rivas, Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez and Michael Cuddyer all
starting there this season. Now, Punto and Cuddyer likely will
fight for time at third, with Boone becoming the everyday second
baseman.

"That's why I'm going there," Boone said.

He should expect a warm greeting, at least from the Twins' two
All Stars.

"I just hope it's good for him and he'll help us," Minnesota
left-hander Johan Santana said at Comerica Park in Detroit, where
he was preparing for Tuesday's All-Star game with teammate and
closer Joe Nathan.

"Sounds awesome," Nathan said. "He's going to do nothing but
help us, and hopefully he'll get back to his old form. Hopefully
it'll be like the Shannon Stewart trade."

The Twins were 44-49 at the break in 2003, when they acquired
Stewart from the Toronto Blue Jays and surged to the playoffs.

Boone, a 12-year veteran with 252 homers and a .266 average for
his career, is with his fifth team. He'll join Minnesota on
Thursday at the Metrodome for a four-game series against the
Angels.

"Sometimes, guys get jump-started when they move and get a new
beginning," Ryan said. "I hope that's the case with Bret."