Gardy Encourages Kubel Confidence
of fans and media have advice for highly regarded Twins manager
Ron Gardenhire. Among the suggestions is
to send Jason Kubel to the minor leagues as a prescription to
improve his hitting.
Twins need a left fielder and more punch at the plate. Kubel, 24, has
been admired for his ability and potential. In the minors he hit .321
in 2002 and .298 in 2003. In 60 at bats with the Twins in 2004 he
batted .300 and at two minor league stops that year compiled averages of
.377 and .343. He missed the entire 2005 season recovering from left
knee surgery. Last season he had a .241 average, with eight home runs
and 26 RBI’s.
season he’s hitting .250 with no home runs and 12 RBI’s in 96 at bats.
Yesterday he stopped a 0-11 streak by going two-for-three.
Kubel benefit from playing every day with the AAA team in Rochester?
“We haven’t even gotten there yet,” Gardenhire told Sports Headliners in
his office yesterday. “We’re always evaluating…what’s going to be best
for the players and the ball club. Right now we’re just trying to
figure out who can go out there, step it up, play left field for us and
get it done. He’s…probably one of the best projected hitters out there
but you have to do it out on the field. Right now it’s just a little bit
of a struggle, but he’s trying.”
Gardenhire said the plan has been to use Kubel as a designated hitter or
left fielder and he minimized the likelihood of sending Kubel to the
minors. Gardenhire wants to see Kubel improve his confidence and “trust
Gardenhire said Kubel is healthy and the knee doesn’t bother him. “You
gotta remember he was one of the best hitters in our (farm) system a few
years ago before this knee injury,” Gardenhire said. “He’s only 24
years old. He’s got a lot to learn. He missed a complete year of
baseball. He’s still battling back from that. It doesn’t come back
that easy. He’s working hard. …
make-up is probably a little detrimental to him because he’s not one of
these rah-rah, go-get-em guys. He’s kind of a laid back kid and that
probably doesn’t help him in trying to come back from this thing. …He’s
a little tentative. We gotta get that out. We want him to be
aggressive. That’s what we’re working on right now, just being more
aggressive as a player and a person. …”
Gardenhire said younger players have emotional swings and Kubel can
benefit from a steady approach, not be too hard on himself and “he’ll be
a better player once he learns that.”
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Twins
"We want him to be aggressive. That’s what
we’re working on right now, just being more aggressive as a player and a
Ron Gardenhire on Jason Kubel
Vikings Draft Choice Knows Surprises
easy guess is that Vikings’ seventh round draft choice Tyler Thigpen
won’t make the team’s final roster later this year. Going into the
draft last month the Vikings had three players on their roster who they
had picked in rounds five or later. However, there are always surprises
in the draft as former Vikings quarterback Brad
Johnson, a ninth round pick in 1992, will tell you.
Thigpen, a quarterback from small school Coastal Carolina in Conway,
South Carolina, is familiar with surprises. He didn’t see pro football
in his future growing up near Columbia, South Carolina and even after
his junior year at Coastal he didn’t anticipate a tryout in the NFL.
“Coming out of high school I didn’t think I was going to play college
football,” Thigpen told Sports Headliners. “Going into college football
I had no clue I would even dream of being an NFL player. Things opened
up for me after my senior year. I’ve taken advantage of every
opportunity I’ve had.”
Coastal Carolina intensified its passing game in Thigpen’s last season.
After throwing for 1,589 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior, he
increased his numbers to 3,296 yards and 29 touchdowns. “That was a big
jump and that (difference) caught the eyes of a lot of guys (scouts),”
Vikings liked his talent, including his passing touch, and his
character. The organization looked at Thigpen on film and even included
him among the players who visited here before the draft. “We thought
this kid was more than talented enough to get drafted and was definitely
worth a seventh-round pick to get him,” said Rick
Spielman, Vikings vice president of player personnel.
Thigpen, about 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, talks modestly about himself and
said he doesn’t know what’s next if he isn’t successful in making the
team. “I have no clue,” he said. “I pray about it. I ask the good
Lord to tell me and send me in the right direction.”
he try NFL Europe? “I definitely want to keep trying,” he said. “If it’s
a possibility for me to keep playing, I definitely want to.”
Thigpen was a sports management major in college. His future could
eventually include coaching at the high school or college level. For
now, though, he’s trying to join the profession of playing football, not
have the Vikings coaches told him? “They haven’t really told me
anything,” he answered. “This is a job. This is a profession. You
gotta come here and compete. …”
“Going into college football I had no clue
I would even dream of being an NFL player. Things opened up for me
after my senior year."
“We thought this kid was more than
talented enough to get drafted and was definitely worth a seventh-round
pick to get him."
Rick Spielman on Tyler Thigpen
Tonight the Twins are giving away Michael Cuddyer jerseys to the
first 5,000 fans 14 and under.
Twins’ third annual Armed Services Appreciation Day is Sunday, May 27
against Toronto. Any past or present member of the armed services who
presents valid military identification receives four free tickets to the
game. Video connecting families with those serving in Iraq will be part
of the day. Twins players will wear caps representing the five branches
of the American military and Toronto players will wear caps from the
three Canadian branches. Tickets can be obtained the day of the game
only at the Gate H tent.
Jacques Lemaire and his coaches are meeting
this week with general manager Doug Risebrough to evaluate
the team and plan for next season.
Former Minnesota North Stars president Lou Nanne, who still
follows the NHL with passion, predicts Ottawa will upset Buffalo in the
Eastern Conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Murray’s restaurant co-owner Tim Murray is rooting for the Utah
Jazz in the NBA playoffs. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan
is a Murray’s regular when he’s in Minneapolis.
University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton
leaves later this month for a vacation to Italy and Switzerland.
Denny Schulstad said 3,700 people attended the University of
Minnesota Alumni Association Annual Celebration earlier this week where
Tony Dungy was the featured speaker. Schulstad is the
association president and is credited with bringing Dungy, the Super
Bowl champion coach and U alum, to town.
John M. Williams, DDS
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