Like Plouffe, Cuddyer was a former first-round pick struggling to play consistent infield defense until the Twins moved him to right field, where he found a defensive home and started hitting consistently. With that in mind, general manager Terry Ryan called Plouffe this winter and told the middle infielder to get a bigger glove.
Plouffe made the switch late last season, essentially because his bat showed more promise than his glove. On his last trip to Class AAA Rochester, Plouffe played games in right and left, then started 11 games in the outfield for the Twins when he was recalled in September. He didn't look like Rickey Henderson, but he caught everything he got close to.
"I did feel comfortable fairly soon after I made the transition," Plouffe said.
Plouffe is in the mix as the team's fourth outfielder, but his ability to play in the infield will no doubt help. As the Twins proved last season, a major league team can never have too much flexibility. In 81 games last season, Plouffe hit .238 with eight homers and 38 RBI. At Rochester, he hit 15 homers and drove in 33 runs.
Many of his home runs with the Twins were impressive drives deep into the left field bleachers, and through 40 games with the Twins he had a slugging percentage of .438. He also drove in the winning run in the season finale with a sharp single, helping the Twins stave off 100 losses.
"I put on some weight this offseason; I put on 10 pounds," he said. "It was something I wanted to do, and I feel more comfortable now doing it because I will be in the outfield, and it can maybe play into my role a little -- maybe add a little power."
But he also has been working on defense, practicing with the baseball team at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
"I've been working, taking fly balls and reading balls off the bat," he said. "I guess that's the only way you can get ready is take live balls off the bat."
Twins Notes & Quotes
General manager Terry Ryan said Hughes will fly to the team's training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., Saturday and is expected to rehab the shoulder through the rest of February.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training next Friday, and the first full workout is scheduled for Feb. 24. "This was the best possible news I could have gotten (regarding Hughes)," Ryan said. Hughes is a leading candidate to earn a utility spot and play his first full major league season this year.
"I think I would probably have treated it a little bit differently if we would have been playing competitive baseball at the time, shooting for the playoffs," Baker said. "I think that second time, I really attempted to let it go properly, really do a proper rehab as far as one, letting it calm down completely and then building back up. It was kind of a long process to throw two or three innings, but it was something that I probably didn't have to do -- that I wanted to do just for the peace of mind going into the offseason."
Casilla, who made $865,000, filed for $1.75 million. The Twins have offered $1.065 million. Limited to 97 games because of a hamstring injury, he hit .260 with 21 RBI in 2011. The Twins expect him to start at second base this season.
"I do it three or four times a week for about a half hour," he said. "It's just strengthening up my focus, keeping my eyes focused on the target, stuff like that. That's definitely been good."