Twins get outfield depth from Cubs in ex-Tiger Monroe

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins hope Craig Monroe hits as
well for them as he did against them.

The Twins acquired Monroe from the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday for a
player to be named. The 30-year-old outfielder batted .219 with 12
homers and 59 RBIs last season for the Tigers and the Cubs, who
obtained him Aug. 23 after Detroit designated him for assignment.

Before going to Chicago, Monroe tormented the Twins during his
four-plus seasons with Detroit in the AL Central. He has hit .322
with 13 home runs in 283 career at-bats against Minnesota,
including a .304 average in 35 games at the Metrodome.

"He has had a lot of success in this building," new Twins
general manager Bill Smith said with a chuckle. "What he gives us
is a proven run producer and a right-handed bat."

Those were two of the biggest priorities for the Twins entering
the offseason as they looked to add some pop and balance to a
lineup anchored by lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Monroe is expected to share time in the outfield and at
designated hitter with another lefty, Jason Kubel.

"I feel like it's a comfortable situation for me," Monroe
said. "I do know most of the people on that team from my years
playing in the division. That should ease the transition for me."

The Cubs traded another outfielder Monday, sending Jacque Jones
to Detroit for utility player Omar Infante.

Monroe admitted to having a difficult time after being dropped
by the Tigers and going to the Cubs late this season. He struggled
to adapt to a different league and new pitchers and hit just .204
with one home run in 23 games for the Cubs.

He is close friends with free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter,
a longtime Twins star, and said the two were playing phone tag
Tuesday after Monroe got the news.

"I'll definitely be tugging at him to stay," Monroe said.
"Something I've always wanted to do is play alongside him. Playing
next to each other, I think I can help him out a little bit."

The Twins hope getting Monroe back in a division with which he
is familiar will help him return to form. He drove in 89 runs in
2005, and 92 in 2006 for Detroit.

Smith called Monroe's 2007 a "disappointing season," but said
the trade was the first move in what is expected to be a busy
offseason in Minnesota as the Twins look to bounce back after
missing the playoffs.

Among other things, Smith has to decide if he can afford to make
Hunter a five-year contract offer that would be competitive with
the big-money bids Hunter is expected to receive on the open
market. The GM also must determine if he has a chance to sign ace
Johan Santana to an extension. Santana can become a free agent
after 2008.

"We've got a lot of work to do this winter," Smith said.
"This was an opportunity for us to improve the club and we took
advantage of it."