<
>

Twins lock up reliever Crain through 2009

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins and reliever Jesse
Crain agreed to a $3.25 million, three-year contract Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Crain went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 68 games last
season, finishing strong to help the Twins rally for their fourth
AL Central title in five seasons.

In his final 22 appearances, the right-hander was 2-0 with a
0.38 ERA and allowed just 14 hits.

"It's definitely something I'm excited about," Crain said.
"The Twins worked with us real good to get it."

He gets $500,000 this year, $1.05 million in 2008 and $1.7
million in 2009. During the final two seasons, he can earn a total
of $375,000 based on games finished.

In two-plus seasons with the Twins, Crain is 19-10 and has
emerged as one of the team's most reliable arms in the bullpen. The
Canadian has served as a setup man on occasion for closer Joe
Nathan, and the Twins believe he has the stuff to be a closer
someday himself.

"He's been very reliable for us out there for the last 2½ years
or so," general manager Terry Ryan said. "It gives him some
security."

Crain said he was somewhat surprised when the Twins approached
him about a new contract. General manager Terry Ryan had a busy
offseason, signing star catcher Joe Mauer to a four-year, $33
million deal and scrambling to avoid arbitration with AL MVP Justin
Morneau and cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer.

"It was something I was actually hoping for, but I wasn't sure
it was going to happen with everybody that had arbitration this
year," Crain said. "I'm excited for it and look forward to being
with the Twins."