Cuddyer makes spot start in center field
Primary right fielder mans center with Gomez out Monday
MINNEAPOLIS -- With his name slotted at center field in the Twins' lineup for Monday's game against the Rangers, Michael Cuddyer was asked if he could recall the last time that he played the position. It didn't take the outfielder long to give his answer."Yeah, never," Cuddyer said with a laugh. Not high school? Not even Little League? "Nope," the team's primary right fielder added. Cuddyer can now add the position to his resume, as he fills in for Carlos Gomez, who was sidelined for a third straight day with a sore right wrist. Gomez did take batting practice with the team on Monday afternoon, and reported that his wrist felt fine afterward. He said he expects to be back in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Rangers and could be used as a late-inning defensive replacement in the series opener. With Gomez out and a concern about wearing out Craig Monroe's legs following two straight starts in center, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to give a spot start to Cuddyer. "He was excited about it," Gardenhire said of Cuddyer. "I was just trying something different. I know he's a good athlete and a good outfielder." On Sunday, Gardenhire said that the team might consider calling up Denard Span from Triple-A Rochester should Gomez need a few more days to let the wrist heal. With Gomez feeling he could be ready to play as soon as Tuesday, however, Gardenhire felt it was best not to make a move, despite Span's recent hot streak Span was just named the International League Player of the Week. In six games for the Red Wings over the past seven days, he totaled 13 hits and batted .619, more than .100 points higher than his nearest competitor "If the opportunity arises, he'll be the outfielder called up if we need one," Gardenhire said of Span. "There is no doubt about that in my mind. It's just finding the right space for him. Bringing him up right now to sit on the bench or bringing him up for one game and then sitting here is not the ideal situation." Instead, Gardenhire turned to Cuddyer. The move wasn't completely shocking, considering that Gardenhire had hinted at the possibility this past winter. Before the team acquired Gomez from the Mets in the Johann Santana trade, the skipper mentioned during TwinsFest that he wouldn't be afraid to use Cuddyer in center field. At the time, the outfielder seemed willing, if that was what the team deemed necessary. "Did I really think I was going to go out there? Probably not," Cuddyer said. "But I'm not unaccustomed to switching positions, by any means. It's not like I'm a player that's been in one position my whole life and now I'm switching." Cuddyer has seen his share of position changes during his tenure as a Twin. Besides his current job as the team's right fielder, Cuddyer has started games at first base, second, third and in left field. He also mentioned that he played shortstop in the Hall of Fame game against the Braves in 2004. The only positions now left for Cuddyer to add to his resume are pitcher and catcher. Although after spending time shagging balls in center field during batting practice, he seemed content to leave it as is. "This completes my tour around a Major League baseball field," Cuddyer said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.