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03/24/10 5:52 PM ET

Lefty reliever Mahay rejoins Twins

Veteran signs Minors deal with invite to big league camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With Joe Nathan's season-ending elbow injury and left-hander Glen Perkins currently sidelined with a strained lower back, the Twins' bullpen depth had been looking a little thinner lately.

That depth got a boost on Wednesday, when the Twins signed veteran left-hander Ron Mahay to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp.

This is Mahay's second stint with the Twins. The 38-year-old signed with the club late last August after being released by the Royals. He was a valuable member out of the bullpen for the club, allowing two runs in nine innings (16 appearances) down the stretch for Minnesota.

The Twins had been interested in bringing Mahay back, and they were in contact with him throughout the winter, but general manager Bill Smith said the timing hadn't worked out on a deal until now.

"I think he was looking for a Major League commitment," Smith said. "We didn't have that through the winter, and we still don't have that, but we're glad to have him back in the organization."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the expectation is Mahay will probably start in the Minor Leagues, but he will give the club a proven veteran left-handed option for the 'pen.

Mahay is 26-11 with a 3.86 ERA and four saves with eight teams in 13 Major League seasons.

"We know what Mahay can do, he can come in and get lefties out," Gardenhire said. "Now it's about getting himself in shape and then we see where we're at here in a couple weeks once the season starts."

Gardenhire said he wasn't sure exactly when Mahay will arrive, although the expectation is that he'll be on his way to Fort Myers, Fla., right away. Mahay, who hasn't been in camp with any other team this spring, will be eased into the routine as the club tries to get him ready for the season.

"We're going to bring him over here and probably let him throw a bullpen [session] or two for [pitching coach Rick Anderson]," Gardenhire said. "He's thrown to some high school kids. We can also run him down the street [for Minor League games] to start getting some innings in."

Perkins, who is in the running for the fifth-starter's spot and is also an option for the bullpen, injured his back while working out at the Lee County Sports Complex on Monday's scheduled off-day. Gardenhire labeled Perkins as day-to-day on Tuesday, but he said that it will likely be a few days before Perkins is ready to pitch again.

Gardenhire said Wednesday that Perkins' back was feeling a lot better and that he might be able to do some activity on Thursday. But with a back injury, he said, it's unclear just when Perkins will get back on the mound.

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