Twins spring training gets into full swing

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Spring training opens for the full squad on Saturday as the Twins position players were required to report to Ft. Myers on Friday.

The Star Tribune reports there is a full schedule ready for Saturday. Prospects and veterans take to the field all hoping to impress. The day will mark the first live batting practice for touted prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.

Veterans like Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett return to the club. Both were signed to minor-league contracts in the offseason. Bartlett will take batting practice for the first time in a year-and-a-half on Saturday.

Both Kubel and Bartlett are trying to make the club. Bartlett likely as a utility man and reserve infielder, Kubel could impact the starting lineup as either a corner outfielder or designated hitter if he still possesses the trademark pop in his bat.

Kubel left the Twins after the 2011 season as a free-agent. He is hoping a return to the club he had his best years with can re-ignite his bat. Last season, in 97 games with the D-backs and the Indians Kubel hit just .216 with five homers and 23 RBIs.

He returns to the Twins healthy. “I’m over all of the injuries and stuff,” Kubel said. “I’m just looking forward to starting over again. I started out fine and then got hurt early. It never really healed and I never really got back after that.”

It’s not just the hitters with something to prove for the Twins. The Twins totally rebuilt their pitching staff in the offseason.

They signed veterans Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and resigned Mike Pelfrey.

Hughes went through an unusually long year with the Yankees last season. He finished 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA.

1500ESPN reports the fresh start is just what Hughes needed.

“You don’t have any of that baggage from last year. It’s a fresh start for both sides,” Hughes told KSTP. “Being with a team that struggled last year and personally struggling last year, kind of coming in with that sense of optimism. I think it’s a good thing for both sides.”

The Twins hope Hughes can help bolster a rotation that lacked strikeouts. Even in a bad season, Hughes fanned 7 ½ batters per nine innings.

Hughes was signed to a three-year 24 million dollar contract in the offseason. According to the report, Hughes is hoping to make 30 or more starts and have a quality start each time.

The Twins certainly hope so too. Three straight 90-loss seasons have everyone around the organization hungry for a winning season.

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