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Left 'Out' In The Outfield

Look there! In the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s SpanMan! Hitting below .200? Ouch. Denard Span’s batting average has been well, “less than stellar” this spring, but have no fear twins fans, that’s why it’s called spring training. True, last year’s savior in right field isn’t quiet looking like the solid everyday man we saw him form into late last season. Leading the team this spring with 14 strikeouts and boasting a dismal .256 OBP, Span surely needs to find that swing again before he hopes to take the field come April 6th, but for Span not everything looks bad. He does have 9 RBIs this spring; one of the highest totals on the team. This means he at least, if nothing else, has found that sweet swing when it counts. But if in fact Span seems to linger in this strange “funk” he has found himself in once the season begins, that’s when the Twins show off those three other reliable men in the outfield.

Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez are all performing well this spring, making that starting lineup decision that much tougher for ol’ Gardy. Cuddyer, coming off an injury plagued 2008, has made a steady impact in his at-bats this spring. With a bat hitting just over .300, his veteran status, and an arm that would make most pro quarterbacks jealous, Cuddyer is sure to be one of Gardenhire’s team favorites. If Cuddyer stays healthy in 2009, we may not see his 2006 numbers again, but we are sure to see a steady team leader.

In a statistics controlled world, Gomez would be the outfielder left out on opening day. With a “streaky” 2008 hitting performance and youth that sometimes caused his patrolling of center field to be inconsistent, Gomez showed Twins fans what to much energy can sometimes equal. Lucky for us Minnesotans, the skipper for our team looks for more than just numbers, and with Gomez’s fire and speed it’s hard to count him out. Not to mention that the young player seems to be growing into that 6’4” frame, hitting 3 homeruns in just 50 at-bats this spring. We might see a few more of Go-Go Gomez’s hits Go-Go over the fence then we expected.

Last but not least, hot hitting Delmon Young as took it upon himself to make a small dent in those “will he ever turn into the player we thought he was going to turn into” talks that have been circulating. Keep in mind, it is only spring, but if Young keeps his power numbers and batting average rolling like he has been at camp this spring, then he is well on his way to becoming that 30-30 player scouts first saw. Unfortunately, Young seems to get to nervous for his own good while in the outfield, making blunders that a player of his caliber should make routinely. Because of this, we may see less of Young out there in left field in 2009. Although it is hard to deny the possible joy of having Young’s arm in left on a daily basis; with both him and Cuddyer, it would make players like Ichiro think twice before tagging up.

When it comes down to it, Gardenhire will have many tough decisions this season if all four of these promising players keep healthy, but why is this a bad thing? I don’t think a team has ever suffered from having to many good players. Thus, the Twins will have their options open, and each one of these players will be fighting for their own right to be an everyday starter, each and every day of the year. In my eyes, more risk equals more passion. Gentlemen, start your engines, its going to be one hell of a show.

Composed By Jake Hodge

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