02/11/08 5:04 PM ET
First mate: Mientkiewicz inks in Minors
Veteran Gold Glover invited to compete for spot in spring
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Mientkiewicz spent the 2007 season with the Yankees, though he actually spent half of the year working through a rehab program. After platooning at first through the season's first two months, Mientkiewicz fractured his right wrist in a collision on June 1. It was an injury that kept the now 33-year-old out of the Majors until September.
During the three months he did spend in the Majors with New York, Mientkiewicz hit .277 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 72 games.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Mientkiewicz spent parts of seven seasons in Minnesota, which is where he first turned heads with his defensive skills. After the 2001 season, the first baseman picked up a Gold Glove following a year in which he also hit .306 for the Twins. His .996 career fielding percentage ranks second all-time among first basemen.
Minnesota eventually shipped Mientkiewicz to Boston as part of a four-team trade at the '04 trade deadline. Soon after, Mientkiewicz found himself wearing a World Series championship ring. In between his time with the Red Sox and the Yankees, Mienkiewicz spent one season with both the Mets and Royals.
The addition of Mientkiewicz, a lifetime .271 hitter, at camp gives the Pirates another potential option as a backup first baseman. Though the Pirates have anticipated having Chris Gomez, who the club signed to a one-year contract back in December, back up Adam LaRoche, should Mientkiewicz turn some heads during the next six weeks, he could find himself on the big league club on Opening Day.
Including Mientkiewicz, the Pirates now will have 66 players at big league camp in Bradenton, Fla. Full squad workouts begin on Feb. 20.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.