Manager Ron Gardenhire unveiled his batting order for 2006 -- at least
through five places -- and it looks decidedly different than the one he
opened with last year.
Of course, that was the plan after the Twins finished 2005 as one of the
worst-hitting teams in the majors.
Gardenhire's top five: left fielder Shannon Stewart, second baseman Luis Castillo, catcher Joe Mauer, designated hitter Rondell White and center
fielder Torii Hunter.
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
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."
NOTES, QUOTESThe Oscar-nominated movie "Brokeback Mountain" was co-produced by Bill
Pohlad, the son of Twins owner Carl Pohlad, who said he was surprised by the
success of the venture.
"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."The Twins appear to have acquired the final piece of their 2006 puzzle
with the signing of 40-year-old DH/PH Ruben Sierra to serve as their veteran
left-handed pinch hitter. Sierra, a switch hitter who hit .229 for the
Yankees in duty limited by injury last year, signed as a minor league free
agent but is considered a lock to make the roster, barring injury. The
four-time All-Star with 306 career home runs helped eliminate the Twins in
the first round of the 2004 playoffs with a three-run home run in the
Yankees' decisive Game 4 win at the Metrodome.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is making one detour before heading south
for spring training: to Minnesota's North Shore for a 370-mile snowmobile
ride to help raise money for research into a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease.Gardenhire's son, 23-year-old SS Toby Gardenhire, who finished his
collegiate career at Illinois last year before being drafted by the Twins on
the second day of the June draft, starts his first spring training as a
member of the Twins organization this month. He's scheduled to travel to
Fort Myers, Fla., next week to get a three-week head start on the opening of
minor league camp there.Ron Gardenhire, who has suffered episodes of heart palpitations at
least twice and undergone stress tests at least three times since becoming
Twins manager, is scheduled for one more precautionary stress test before
departing for spring training this month.Former Twins greats Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Tony Oliva and Terry
Steinbach all are expected to be in uniform for parts of spring training as
special instructors during camp, along with former Twins manager Tom Kelly.
The Twins also have asked Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew to join that group.The Twins hired Adam Abrams as the full-time replacement for legendary
public-address announcer Bob Casey, who died last March. Abrams, who has
worked with the Twins on the game presentation staff the past five years,
also is the public-address announcer for the NHL's Minnesota Wild. The Twins
used several PA announcers last year during a season-long tribute to Casey.
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
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
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.