MINNEAPOLIS — As he looked for a team to sign with this offseason, veteran right-hander Kevin Correia saw the situation the Minnesota Twins were in and knew he would have a chance to contribute.
Minnesota’s 2012 rotation ERA was 5.40, worst in the American League, and the Twins were looking to add several veteran arms to solidify the rotation. One of those additions ended up being Correia, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Minnesota in December.
“It was a great opportunity with them going out there and getting some guys to really improve this team,” Correia said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been looking for the last few years of my career. The people I talked to about the organization, the coaching staff and the city, I couldn’t get a bad word out of anybody. So it was an easy decision for me.”
Correia was one of several veteran pitchers the Twins brought in this offseason with the hope of shoring up the AL’s worst rotation. Last weekend, he joined fellow pitchers Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey at TwinsFest as the trio of right-handers met their new Twins teammates — and the fans who are starving to see improvement to Minnesota’s pitching staff.
“It’s nice to get out here and meet some of the guys. Hopefully, I’ll get over and see the stadium too and meet more guys from the organization like the coaches,” Correia said. “We’re only a few weeks from spring training, so this is kind of like the first feeling of the year.”
The 32-year-old Correia spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before that, he spent two years in San Diego after playing the first six years of his career with the San Francisco Giants. He’s never won more than 12 games or reached 200 innings in a season but was an All-Star for Pittsburgh in 2011 when he was 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA in 27 games (26 starts).
Minnesota is hoping Correia can add a veteran presence to the back end of the rotation. Correia hopes he can bring consistency to the Twins.
“I know when you have a younger staff out there that’s something you can lack,” Correia said. “Guys will pitch well in one start but not the next. So I’d like be consistent. I’ve been fairly healthy my entire career, so I pride myself on staying on the field and trying to help us win most of the times I go up there. I think if you can do that throughout the season, you can have a productive year and help the team win.”
Correia, Pelfrey and Worley have all spent their entire major league careers in the National League, which means they’ll all have to adjust to facing American League lineups that include a designated hitter. It also means those three won’t have to hit on a regular basis; Correia was a career .116 hitter with 12 RBI in 328 plate appearances.
Now that he’s putting the National League behind him, Correia believes the switch to the AL should pay dividends for his production on the mound.
“I think in the National League your innings get cut short because you get pinch-hit for in certain situations,” said Correia, whose career-high innings total was 198 back in 2009. “So I’m looking forward to seeing how many innings I can put up in the American League for the first time in my career.”
Correia admitted the only new Twins teammate he knows well is catcher Ryan Doumit, who played with Correia in Pittsburgh in 2011 and caught him in nine games. Correia has faced the Twins just once in his career, picking up a win by pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings on June 19 of last season.
Thuogh he’s witnessed Minnesota endure back-to-back 90-loss seasons, Correia is now hoping he can be a part of the solution in 2013.
“This is an organization that I always looked at from afar where you didn’t really expect great things but always won ballgames,” Correia said of the Twins. “It wasn’t a team that spent the most money and won games that way. They just together a quality team out there with good chemistry that competed well every year. I think people got used to that.
“So they’ve been down a few years but you want to turn it around as quick as possible. And with the moves they’ve made, I think we’re going to play better baseball than they have in recent years.”