The Twins announced that they have signed free agents 3B Sean Burroughs and catcher Rene Rivera to minor league deals and gave both spring training invites. Rene Rivera is someone we are all familiar with as he was with the Twins this past season as part of the catching group that tried to cover the games that Joe Mauer was not able to play. Rivera played in 35 games and had 15 hits in 104 at bats giving him a .144 batting average. Rivera is only in camp because there are lots of pitchers that need to be caught and he has zero chance of making the Twins team in 2012 unless of course Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit coming up missing between now and February.
The signing of 3B Sean Burroughs, 31, is kind of interesting and his baseball career has had some twists and turns. Let’s us go back to the beginning, Sean is the son of former 1974 AL MVP Jeff Burroughs and he was the star of the Long Beach Little league team that won back-to-back world championships in 1992 and 1993 with his Dad as the coach. Sean was selected 9th overall in 1998 by the San Diego Padres out of high school. San Diego was able to convince Burroughs to forego a scholarship to USC and sign with the club. When the Padres completed spring training in 2002, Sean Burroughs was their starting 3B. Although Burroughs hit for average he did not display the kind of power hat everyone usually expects out of the 3B position. After 4 years in San Diego Burroughs had hit just 11 home runs. After the 2005 season Burroughs was traded to Tampa Bay but they released him in August of 2006. Burroughs then signed on with the Seattle Mariners but he never made the big league club and by June he was released and out of baseball. Substance abuse was taking its toll on Sean Burroughs and he found himself in Las Vegas staying in the cheapest hotels he could find and now and then having to eat out of garbage cans. Luckily, Burroughs was able to straighten out his life, regain sobriety and sign a contract with the Arizona D-Backs in November in 2010 and by May 19, 2011 a little over 5 years since his last big league at bat, Sean Burroughs was back playing major league baseball.
Burroughs is a left-handed hitter and stand 6’2″ and goes about 180 lbs. It would be nice to see Sean Burroughs continue to rise from the depths of desperation by becoming an All-Star player in Minnesota but we need to be realistic here. The man is 31 years old and was out of baseball for over 5 years before signing with Arizona last season. The Twins have signed Burroughs to push Danny Valencia a bit and if worse comes to worse, Burroughs might be the guy that the Twins can plug in at 3B for a time. Sure, nuggets are sometimes found but more often than not, there are reasons why players like Burroughs are not stars. But it is fun to wish and to hope, particularly during the holiday season but I think we have to look at Burroughs as insurance, we all hate to pay for insurance but we all need to have it because you never know when you will need. Didn’t Yogi Berra say that? You can’t help but root for someone who is working to get his life back and I wish him the best and if he can help the Twins, so much the better.