Of course, that was the plan after the Twins finished 2005 as one of the worst-hitting teams in the majors.
The 2-3-4 spots represent the biggest difference over last year -- when the Twins opened with rookie shortstop Jason Bartlett in the No. 2 spot, Mauer at No. 3 and first baseman Justin Morneau at cleanup. Both Mauer and Morneau were spending their first full year in the majors.
The threesome had 157 combined games of big-league experience. This year's 2-3-4? They not only have 2,631 games of experience but bring four All-Star appearances and 11 .300 seasons between them.
Morneau, who struggled through much of a .239, 22-homer season last year, remains potentially the biggest power threat in the Twins' lineup, but after falling short of expectations last year, he enters 2006 with something to prove.
If the season opened tomorrow, he likely would bat sixth in the lineup, with third baseman Tony Batista and right fielder Michael Cuddyer taking the 7-8 spots in some order, and, according to Gardenhire, "whoever's our shortstop" batting ninth.
"Hopefully, I can change things," Morneau said. "I think I'll hit where I deserve to hit in the lineup if I'm swinging the bat well. You know, it doesn't matter that much. Hopefully it's somewhere in the middle, where I think I can help us win games."
"I was against him going into it," the Twins owner told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I said, 'You can never make it (win an Oscar).' I've been in and out of the pictures business for a number of years, and you don't just make one picture and hope you can get anything done with it. But that's quite an achievement. He fooled me."
Carl Pohlad's thumbnail review after seeing the movie: "It's a powerful movie. Go see it."
BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Number of Twins players on provisional rosters for the inaugural World Baseball Classic, more than from any other club.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "With the Yankees, I tried to help the young kids like Robinson Cano and Bubba Crosby. I expect to do the same thing with Minnesota." -- DH/PH Ruben Sierra, 40, on his role with the young Twins in 2006 after signing as a free agent last week.
ARRIVALS: DH Rondell White (free agent from Detroit), 3B Tony Batista (free agent from Japan), LHP Dennys Reyes (minor league free agent from San Diego), 2B Luis Castillo (trade with Florida), OF Jason Pridie (selected from Tampa Bay in Rule 5 draft), LHP Gabe White (minor league free agent from St. Louis), LHP Darrell May (minor league free agent from New York Yankees), DH/OF Ruben Sierra (minor league free agent from New York Yankees).
DEPARTURES: RF Jacque Jones (free agent, signed with Cubs), LHP J.C. Romero (traded to Angels), INF/OF Brent Abernathy (free agent, signed with Milwaukee), OF Mike Ryan (minor league free agent, signed with Atlanta), C Corky Miller (minor league free agent), RHP Joe Mays (free agent, signed with Kansas City), DH/C Matt LeCroy (released), LHP Terry Mulholland (free agent, signed with Arizona), 2B Luis Rivas (released, signed with Tampa Bay), INF Augie Ojeda (free agent, signed with Cubs).
FREE AGENTS: None.
ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: RHP Kyle Lohse could be headed to another arbitration hearing.
IN LIMBO: With LHP J.C. Romero traded to the Angels, arbitration-eligible RHP Kyle Lohse tendered a contract and OF Jacque Jones departed once and for all as a free agent, the Twins have settled the roster issues that appeared most uncertain at 2005 season's end.
MEDICAL WATCH: OF Jason Kubel, who was expected to battle for a starting job in 2005 before suffering a massive knee injury during 2004 Arizona Fall League play, produced well at the plate in Arizona last fall but was still not allowed to play in the field or run the bases hard. It is doubtful he'll be 100 percent healthy and ready to compete for RF Jacque Jones' vacated spot when spring training opens. ... RHP Carlos Silva, who was limited to 27 starts last season because of torn meniscus in his right knee, underwent successful surgery and is expected to be at full strength for spring training. ... C Mike Redmond had a bone spur in his foot surgically repaired and is expected to make a full recovery by spring training.