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photo by Cindy Cornwell	 Florida Spring Training Twins warmup prior to game against St. Louis Cardinals – Ft. Myers, FL. Positions set in stone for the 2002 season: #16 Doug Mientkiewicz will be playing 1st base. Luis Rivas #2 will start at second base. #47 Corey Koskie third base.Thousands of fans from around the country attend Spring Training as one of the great traditions in baseball. This past week I was lucky enough to be one of them, along with my two sons, Alex and Jordan. Spring training for the Minnesota Twins is in Fort Myers, Florida—Lee County Sports Complex—Hammond Stadium. Hammond Stadium is home to the Minnesota Twins major league team and six minor league teams.

The Fort Wayne Wizards were affiliated with the Minnesota Twins a few years back. Remember names like Koskie, Hawkins, Hunter, and most recently, Cuddyer and Rincon? These former Fort Wayne Wizard Baseball Players are now major leaguers with the Minnesota Twins and here is where some of them are at now.

Good news on Koskie. Third baseman Corey Koskie had a deep bruise on his left wrist, but after a couple of weeks of rehab back in Minnesota Koskie is now back on the field. "It was just an occupational hazard," said Koskie, who returned to Florida on March 8th. The Twins need Koskie's steady defense and lefthanded power; a year ago, he had 26 homers, 103 RBI's and scored over 100 runs.

Torri Hunter the "golden glove" in center field is running down almost every fly ball and is getting as quick a read off the bat as any other player.

The pitchers were throwing hard in the bullpen on Wednesday evening, but unfortunately Juan Rincon, a former Wizard pitcher, wasn't there...he had just been released.

And for my favorite - Michael Cuddyer. Former first-round pick in the 1997 free-agent draft, Michael had a great season when he was at Double-A New Britain before being called up to the Twins in September 2001. He continued to play well in the Arizona Fall League, where he was named to the All-Prospect Team. Winter League stats showed Michael named 2001 Sherry Robertson Award Winner as the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. With pre-season nearly over, virtually every position has been set. This season has been difficult though, for the 23-year-old player who has been battling for a position since day one of spring training. Cuddyer said, "I spend 90 percent of my time on hitting right now and would like a starting job on the field, maybe right." Twins new manager Ron Gardenhire said the battle for the starting right field job is between front-runner Brian Buchanan and rookie Michael Cuddyer, who will continue to get playing time at the position until a final decision is made on Wednesday, March 27th. I am hoping for this Virginia native to have the right stuff and be on the lineup.

Root, root, root for your home team. Yes, but I will be one of those baseball fans across the country that will be picking up a TWIN allegiance. Start spreading the news: "The Minnesota Twins are America's Team 2002."

Minnesota Twins 6. St. Louis Cardinals 8.

Let's Play Ball!


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