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12/15/08 1:35 PM EST

Tigers sign Everett to one-year deal

Infielder could shore up defense, will earn $1 million plus incentives

The news that Adam Everett would be signing on as a member of the Tigers leaked nearly a week ago, and it was especially good news for Betty Thaxton of Sterling Heights, Mich.

Thaxton is the grandmother of Everett's wife, Jennifer, who was born in the Detroit area, and she has received plenty of congratulatory greetings in recent days.

"She feels like a celebrity when she goes to Meijer," Everett said.

The Tigers didn't go to Meijer, but they did hit the free-agent market when looking for a defensive-minded shortstop to fill the void left by Edgar Renteria. They came out with Everett, who will get the majority of the starts at short. Ramon Santiago will also see time at the position.

Everett's one-year deal worth $1 million plus incentives became a matter of public knowledge during last week's Winter Meetings, but the signing became official Monday morning, after the formality of a physical had been completed.

"We really focused on improving our defense and our pitching, and, of course, they go hand-in-hand," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "When you put Adam at shortstop, he's one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He has outstanding range, he knows how to play the game, he does the little things and is a leader on the field. He's just what we need for our team."

Everett, who turns 32 in February, had more than his in-law roots to consider when signing with Detroit.

"Two good friends, Brian Moehler and Mike Maroth, both played for the Tigers organization and both loved it," Everett said. "Not only that, but you're playing for a winner. Anytime you get a chance to play for who I consider to be a Hall of Fame manager in Jim Leyland, you take that opportunity when it's there."

Everett hasn't had much of a chance to play the last two years, as injuries have gotten in the way. He fractured his right fibula and missed three months of his '07 season with the Astros, and a right shoulder strain and right shoulder tendinitis limited him to just 48 games with the Twins in '08.

The time Everett spent on the disabled list allowed his shoulder to heal, and he said it was back to full strength by season's end. The Tigers were happy with what they saw from Everett during a workout at the team's Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Fla., earlier this month.

Hot Stove

"This offseason, I've maintained my stretching and throwing," Everett said. "I've taken it a lot more serious. It's the old saying that you don't really know how to take care of yourself until you get hurt. I take that very serious now."

Having Everett at short and Brandon Inge at his natural position at third should provide a serious upgrade to the Tigers' infield defense, which could ease the pressure on the pitching staff. In eight big league seasons with the Astros (2001-07) and Twins, Everett has compiled a .976 fielding percentage at short.

But playing in just 114 games over the last two years hasn't allowed Everett to make much noise at the plate. With the Twins last year, he batted just .213 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 127 at-bats.

Everett hopes that good health will get him back toward the numbers he put up with the Astros in '03 (.256, eight homers, 51 RBIs) '04 (.273, eight, 31) and '05 (.248, 11, 54).

"I've always been able to handle a bat and do some things to help the team win," he said. "The last couple years, I haven't really had a chance to show people what I can do. I'm just really thankful I get a chance to show what I'm capable of doing. Everybody knows this team's going to score a lot of runs, and hopefully I can be a part of that."

Dombrowski said Everett will get the majority of starts at short over Santiago.

"We have two very capable shortstops," Dombrowski said. "The exact determination will be made by Jim when he fills the lineup cards out."

Everett is no stranger to his new surroundings, having made many trips to Birmingham, Mich., over the years to visit his wife's family.

"We spend Christmas up there," he said. "[Jennifer's] mother and father are both from up there. We know the area a little bit. It's not like we know it like the back of our hand, but we know quite a bit about it."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.