Nevin's excellent adventure
Veteran reaches postseason for first time in 12-year career
MINNEAPOLIS -- There have been previous Major League stops in Houston, Detroit, Anaheim and San Diego for Phil Nevin, the Astros' first-round pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft.
During the 2006 campaign alone, Nevin has played for the Rangers, Cubs and Twins. But it was an Aug. 31 trade from the National League Central cellar dwellers to Minnesota which ultimately produced a feeling never experienced before by the 35-year-old slugger.
For the first time in 12 seasons, a career in which Nevin has produced a .270 average and 208 home runs, one of baseball's better traveled players will be taking part in the playoffs. In fact, with left-hander Barry Zito on the mound for Oakland in Tuesday's American League Division Series opener at the Metrodome, Nevin will get the start as the Twins' designated hitter.
It has been a whirlwind month of September for Nevin, who fit in almost immediately upon arrival with the vibrant Twins.
"He's good in the clubhouse and was a good late addition," said Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau. "He knows what it takes to play in the big leagues and put together good at-bats."
"I learned my role real quick, but this is an easy group to fit in with," added Nevin on Monday morning at the Metrodome. "Obviously, it's a young team, but they made me feel young. It has been a great experience."
Nevin hit .216 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs over 46 games for the Rangers earlier this season. He was acquired by the Cubs to add a little punch to their woeful lineup when first baseman Derrek Lee broke his wrist during an on-field collision, and hit .274 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs in 67 games for Dusty Baker's crew.
With the Cubs out of contention by the All-Star break, getting sprung from Chicago and placed into immediate postseason contention would seem like a highly anticipated reprieve for Nevin. But even through the team's continued misery, he genuinely enjoyed his second stop of this 2006 three-city residence as much as he currently is enjoying being part of the Twins.
"Just the whole Wrigley Field experience and being part of it ...," said Nevin of his time with the Cubs. "They have a lot of work to do this winter, but when they win, it's going to be an unbelievable experience for the guys involved. It will be something special.
"There were some great people I met over there, and I made some great relationship out of it. I enjoyed playing for Dusty. He's a great man, and he's going to land on his feet somewhere."
Tuesday's game in the Metrodome certainly won't be lacking for atmosphere and excitement, in a playoff venue described by Zito as inspiring but a little shocking in regard to the noise level. Nevin knows how tough the Twins are to play, as an outsider looking in many times before.
He also understood the rise in on-field intensity coming along with the postseason. Nevin knew about the playoffs, watched the games on television and probably even read about them periodically. On Tuesday, he gets to experience the postseason for the first time, up close and personal, and hopes to extend this October run for as long as possible.
"This will be Phil's first postseason," Morneau said. "But he's a veteran guy who has been around for a long time, and been through a lot as a player."
"My years were getting slimmer and slimmer, and you always think about it -- what it would be like," said Nevin of being part of the playoffs. "As a player, you always want to experience that, win a World Series and have a ring. It's my first chance to do it, and we have a good chance to win."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.