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Twins sign veteran Morales to fill DH role

MINNEAPOLIS - One day after reports first surfaced that Minnesota had signed first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, the Twins officially agreed to terms on a one-year, $12 million pro-rated contract with the veteran switch-hitting slugger.

Morales, who hasn't played yet this season, spent last season with the Seattle Mariners, where he hit .277 and clubbed 23 homers and drove in 80 runs. He was in uniform and in the clubhouse Sunday as the Twins prepared for the final game of a three-game series against the Houston Astros, a game won by Houston 14-5.

"He swings the bat well," Twins first baseman Joe Mauer said. "He can produce a lot of runs. It's a good signing. A lot of us are real excited right now."

Because he is out of minor-league options, the Twins can't send Morales down to get his feet wet with Triple-A Rochester, which Twins general manager Terry Ryan said would be the preferred route. Instead, Morales will join the Twins immediately and be eased into the lineup after a few days of batting practice and fielding work. Ryan said Morales will be the team's primary designated hitter moving forward, but could spell Mauer at first if he needs a day off.

"It's a day-to-day thing," Morales said through a translator, Twins bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar. "I'll be working out and talking with (Twins manager Ron Gardenhire) and the coaches. When I'm ready, I'll let them know. It could be five days, 10 days or seven days, I don't know."

Morales said he's been working out in Miami, getting regular hitting and fielding practice, typically showing up at seven in the morning and often working out until mid-afternoon Monday through Saturday. He's been working out under the watchful eye of former Twins outfielder Alex Ochoa, someone Ryan said he knows and trusts.

"I wouldn't want to be premature in predicting (when he could be ready)," Ryan said. "Certainly, he's got a lot at stake here. But the worst thing we could do is push the thing and hurt him before he's prepared. We'll take it as it comes."