Youth Movement Not Trend For Twins

Joe Benson is one of the Twins' youngsters.

Last Sunday in Detroit, the Twins started eight rookies, including their starting pitcher. But don't compare this team's predicament to the state of the organization in 2000, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

"At the end of 2000 and into 2001, that was an organization saying, 'We're going with kids. We're tired of going off the market and buying six-year free agents and filling in with veteran players,'" said Gardenhire, who was the third base coach on those teams before taking over as manager in 2002.

This year, he added, "has been based on injuries; it's force fed. We've used (nearly) our whole 40-man roster because of injuries. It's different; it's totally different."

So while the Twins are auditioning rookies such as left-hander Scott Diamond, infielders Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes, and getting a first look at outfielder Joe Benson, right-hander Liam Hendriks and first baseman Chris Parmelee.

They're not recalibrating.

For one thing, they have two former AL MVPs under contract next season, Joe Mauer ($23 million) and Justin Morneau ($15 million), and should have a few other established starters, including center fielder Denard Span, third baseman Danny Valencia and second baseman Alexi Casilla.

The fact that four of those five players have missed substantial amounts of time because of injuries this season is a large reason the Twins have relied so heavily on rookies.

If free agent outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel re-sign this winter, the team could still be veteran-heavy.

"If we get our players back healthy next year, there are a lot fewer holes you have to fill," Gardenhire said. "We need our team healthy and back. We have some guys who are free agents, but there aren't that many spots we have to fill."

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