Twins exercise option on Redmond
Veteran catcher will return for fifth season with team
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Redmond is guaranteed to be back in a Twins uniform for the 2009 season after the Twins exercised his $950,000 club option as expected on Thursday. But the backup catcher's hope is that this won't be his last season in Minnesota."I want to finish up my career in Minnesota and be a Twin until I retire," Redmond, 37, said on Thursday when reached on his cell phone near his home in Spokane, Wash. "I'm hoping that maybe we can talk about me possibly being there when that new stadium opens in 2010 too." Twins general manager Bill Smith spoke with both Redmond and the catcher's agent on Wednesday to tell them that the option would be picked up. While there appears to be interest on both sides in possibly working out a longer deal, Smith said the Twins must first focus on some other areas. "We'll address that," Smith said of Redmond's future with the club. "We do have some other things that we have to look at right now. I told him and his agent, 'Let's get our feet on the ground here and we'll look at that later on.' Right now, we're excited about having him back for next year." Redmond, who is entering his fifth season with the Twins, has established himself as one of the best backup catchers in the game during his time with the team. A career .292 hitter, and known for his game-calling skills behind the plate, Redmond has also provided veteran leadership inside the Twins clubhouse. That's why Smith said the club didn't waste any time in deciding to exercise the option. "He's a big part of this club and it was a very simple decision for us," Smith said. "We had to make a decision by five days after the World Series. But there was no need to take that time. He's really the first step toward looking forward to next year." Redmond said that he had a "pretty good idea" that his option was going to be picked up but getting the news personally from Smith was still a pleasant surprise. "Obviously I was excited. I'm glad to be back," Redmond said. "I know that I still care a lot because that last game of the season, I was the most upset I think I've ever been in my career." It was a very quiet visiting clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field following the Twins' 1-0 loss to the White Sox in a one-game tiebreaker for the AL Central title, and many of the players were emotional. Of all the players, though, Redmond seemed to take the club's early end to the season the hardest. How hard he took the loss gave Redmond a renewed belief that he's not ready to hang up his cleats anytime soon. "I think that showed even myself how much I still loved this game," he said. "It took awhile to shake that loss off. But it's a great young team and an exciting team that's coming back. Hopefully we go out and build on what we accomplished." Redmond, who will turn 38 in May, hasn't put a specific number of years on how long he would like to keep on playing. However, he said that his goal is to play until at least age 40. "I still feel like I can go out there and be productive," Redmond said. "Look at last year, I got some of the fewest at-bats I've had in my whole career but yet I was still productive." With Joe Mauer able to stay healthy all season in 2008, Redmond saw his playing time decrease. The veteran backup catcher appeared in just 38 games for the Twins, batting .287 with six doubles and 12 RBIs. It was just one game shy of the fewest games that Redmond played in a single season, which came in 1998 with the Marlins during his first season in the big leagues. It was a drastic change in playing time from 2007, when Redmond played in 82 games while Mauer battled leg injuries. Redmond helped to adequately fill the void left by Mauer during that span, batting .294 with a .346 on-base percentage and 38 RBIs. For Redmond, though, he's satisfied with whatever his role may entail as the backup. The game is still fun and he plans on remaining on the field until that's no longer the case. "I'm going to play as long as I want to or as long as my body holds up, which so far it has," Redmond said. "If I can go out there and still be competitive and still have fun and still love it, I'm going to do it."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.