Notes: Cuddyer off to rare fast start
Right fielder credits regular playing time to early success
SEATTLE -- Michael Cuddyer has never wanted to blame his slow starts in April on a lack of playing time.But even he admitted this week that entering the 2007 season feeling very comfortable as the starting right fielder has played a role in his hot start. Cuddyer certainly has been on a tear through the first two weeks of the year. Through 13 games, Cuddyer is batting .360 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBIs. "It's something I'm not used to -- getting off to a good start," Cuddyer said with a laugh. April hasn't been the nicest month to Cuddyer in his career. Coming into this season, Cuddyer held a career .219 batting average in the first month of the season. He suffered an even slower start than usual last season, as he came off the bench for the early part of the year from a strained oblique muscle he suffered in the final month of Spring Training. On this same date last year, Cuddyer was hitting just .167 (3-for-18) with one home run and one RBI. The low number of at-bats was something that Cuddyer felt was a factor in his inability to get started on the right foot. "I don't even count April last year," Cuddyer said. "May was my April, and I had a good May, so I didn't see myself as getting off to a slow start. Because once I was able to start playing every day, I was able to do pretty well." It's been the transition into being a full-time right fielder that Cuddyer feels has been a large factor as well. Despite having had starting jobs in the past, Cuddyer said having a starting spot this year was different. That's because playing right field has allowed Cuddyer to feel like he's making a contribution to the club and not just filling a hole. "As much as I'd like to say it hasn't made a difference, it has," Cuddyer said. "At third base I kind of felt like I was just out there filling the spot and trying not to hurt the team. But now I know I can help the team defensively and that has added another level of confidence for me." That confidence has shown in his improved numbers so far this year, but Cuddyer isn't about to declare this season a success just yet. After all, he's been through plenty of seasons that have featured their shares of both ups and downs. "After getting off to some poor starts and seeing things change for the positive, I know that things can flip from the positive to the negative just as quick," Cuddyer said. "So that's why you can't get too caught up in the fact that I'm getting some hits in the first two weeks of the season. So I just want to try to stay even keel and help this team win." Day off: The day after jamming his left shoulder while trying to make a diving catch, Torii Hunter was noticeably absent from the lineup. Hunter said that he arrived at Safeco Field on Wednesday afternoon still feeling a bit stiff The shoulder felt better than it did the night before, but Hunter wasn't quite sure Though Hunter wanted to wait and see how he felt after hitting in the cage, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the decision had already been made to keep him out of the starting lineup for at least Wednesday's game. Gardenhire also acknowledged that Hunter could be a possible option off the bench if the hitting session went well. "We look at things one day at a time, but you also have to look down the road," Gardenhire said. "Losing him for an extended period of time is not a good option, so I just say let him get well tonight and go from there." Waiting for the weekend: Rondell White is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, and he feels like he will be ready to be back in the lineup right away. White, who suffered a strained right calf muscle in Chicago on April 7, completed his first running drills on Tuesday and said that he woke up on Wednesday feeling no effects of the session. He was scheduled to take batting practice with his regular group before Wednesday's game against the Mariners and will try to push his running a bit more during the workout to see if the calf muscle is indeed ready to go. The only concern in White's impending return is that if the injury isn't completely healed, the likelihood of him re-injuring it even worse is greater. So Gardenhire is still taking the process with a wait and see approach. Whatever the team's decision is, to wait a few more days to see if it's fine or to let him play on Friday, White seems content to follow their call. "I have to have patience," White said. "I've had a long career with some injuries so I've learned to be patient. I look at it this way; I'm getting this [injury] out of the way now and making sure it's healed so I won't have to worry about problems the rest of the way." Twins Tidbits: Nick Punto came to the ballpark on Wednesday feeling a bit sore, likely from all of his workouts the day before, so he was kept out of the starting lineup for yet another day. The swelling is almost completely gone in Punto's sprained left ankle, and Punto said he was going to try running close to full speed at some point Wednesday to see if he could be ready to play in the finale at Seattle. ... Despite the absence of a third catcher, Gardenhire slotted both Mike Redmond and Joe Mauer into the lineup. Redmond was catching and Mauer was put in the DH spot so that he could catch Santana in Thursday's day game. Down on the Farm: Left-hander Ryan Mullins gave up two runs on seven hits over six innings in Class A Fort Myers' 5-0 loss to Lakeland on Tuesday. First baseman Erik Lis went 2-for-3 with a walk in the contest. ... Chris Parmelee went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in Class A Beloit's 5-2 victory at Wisconsin. Cole Devries allowed just one earned run on three hits over 4 1/3 innings in his start. Coming up: The Twins close out their series with the Mariners on Thursday in a 5:35 p.m. CT contest. Twins ace Johan Santana will make his fourth start of the year as he faces another southpaw in the Mariner's Jarrod Washburn.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.