Mauer Ready For Season To Open

Mauer hit safely in his last seven at-bats.

Here is our final installment of Spring Training Quick Hits. In it, Joe Mauer ends the spring on a hot note, Jason Kubel looks to be the team's starting right fielder, and much more.

The Twins finished spring training with an ugly, blowout loss to their Triple-A affiliate, but they nonetheless saw several reasons for optimism in the final hours and days before breaking camp.

An injury situation that looked as if it were getting worse daily about two weeks ago suddenly appears to have turned a positive corner.

Right-hander Juan Rincon is set to open the season healthy after spending much of spring nursing a sore elbow (after undergoing bone-chip surgery over the winter). And Michael Cuddyer, the projected starter in right field through half of camp, not only is recovered enough from an oblique strain that he'll open on the active roster, but he also finished the spring with home runs the final three days.

The pitching staff finished the spring with an American League-best 4.23 ERA. The team finished with six straight wins. And catcher Joe Mauer, the team's No. 3 batter, had hits in his final seven at-bats of the spring. The Twins also finished second among AL teams with a spring batting average of .299.

"It's a different story on April 3 and 4," general manager Terry Ryan said. "Everything turns. But we feel good about the club."

NOTES:

  • LHP Francisco Liriano, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, won't be fined or suspended by the team, said general manager Terry Ryan, despite his arrest late last week on suspicion of driving under the influence in Cape Coral, Fla. It would be the first offense for Liriano, whose blood alcohol content was measured at 0.133 percent, according to police (the legal limit is 0.08 percent). Liriano made the Opening Day roster as a reliever, the only left-hander in the bullpen.

  • 3B/1B Terry Tiffee was optioned to Triple-A Rochester over the weekend as the Twins kept Luis Rodriguez as their final infielder. --OF Jason Tyner was reassigned to minor league camp over the weekend as the Twins finalized their Opening Day roster, keeping OF Michael Cuddyer on the active roster despite their reluctance to rush him back from an oblique strain. Cuddyer, who had been the projected starter in right field, will open on the bench as rookie OF Jason Kubel opens in right.

  • OF/PH Ruben Sierra, as expected, was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, a paper move that set the 25-man roster. Sierra, who signed as a minor league free agent over the winter, is still rehabilitating a pulled quadriceps and is to remain in extended spring training while he completes his recovery -- at which point, he is expected to be added to the roster.

  • The Twins officially broke their spring training attendance record Sunday when they sold 6,690 tickets. That brought their 18-date home attendance total to 128,264, breaking their 1991 spring training record of 123,753.
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