Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/10/12
FORT MYERS, Fla. Out of the 162 games the Minnesota Twins played last season, manager Ron Gardenhire penciled in 150 different lineups. No batting order was used more than three times all season. Injuries made it nearly impossible for the Twins to have any semblance of consistency in their lineup, and the spring training leading up to the 2011 season was a precursor. Last spring, numerous players on Minnesota's roster missed time with injuries. Outfielder Michael Cuddyer had a wart removed from his foot. Joe Mauer was recovering from offseason knee surgery. Outfielder Delmon Young (turf toe) and first baseman Justin Morneau (recovering from a concussion) were also limited by injuries during camp. One year later, it's a different story in Fort Myers. Aside from the season-ending arm injury to reliever Joel Zumaya, the Twins have stayed relatively healthy. For a team that used the disabled list 27 times for 16 different players during its 99-loss season in 2011 and for a manager who had to hear from the medical staff before writing his daily lineup that's a breath of fresh air."That's kind of what we talked about coming in is not having other people from outside dictate everything that goes on," Gardenhire said. "It's nice to be able to write the lineups out. I've got a double-header written out for Saturday. It's nice to be able to go ahead and not have somebody say, Well, let's do this. Let's wait.' I like that. I like that, being able to control this thing, because I've done that my whole career. "Last year was a little different with a lot of players."Among the biggest names that landed on the disabled list more than once were Mauer and Morneau. Following a shortened spring, Morneau was eventually diagnosed with bilateral leg weakness and missed two months as a result. He also was diagnosed with pneumonia late in the year and was shut down for the season.Morneau had numerous ailments, ranging from neck surgery to wrist surgery to his second concussion in as many years. The 2006 American League MVP played in just 69 games last season. Mauer the 2009 AL MVP played in just 82, meaning the Twins' M&M Boys played less than a full season combined.But both have been healthy and on the field through the first several weeks of spring training. So, too, has center fielder Denard Span, who is batting .500 in in four games after suffering a concussion last season.Essentially everyone on the Twins' roster has stayed on the field this spring, for that matter."We've had a relatively healthy spring, with the exception of Zumaya, of course," said Twins general manager Terry Ryan. "Spring training's very similar. I don't care how long you've been out or how long you've been doing it. It's a very similar process, making sure that everybody stays healthy first and foremost, which I think any GM would tell you, the only thing they worry they worry about in spring training is injuries."Ryan hasn't had much to worry about on that front. Infielder Luke Hughes injured his shoulder while playing winter ball in Australia, but he's been back in the lineup and on the field after missing just one Grapefruit League game. Infielder Ray Chang was hit in the jaw on a play at second base, but he's also returned to action.Zumaya, who missed all of the 2011 season after an arm injury in 2010, hurt his right arm early in spring training and will undergo Tommy John surgery later this month, meaning his first season with the Twins was over before it started. But Minnesota was taking a gamble in the first place by signing the injury-plagued reliever as a free agent this offseason."It's sad we're not going to have him on our ballclub this year. I was looking forward to that," Gardenhire said. "If he wants to continue to try to play and get this (surgery) done, I'm all for it. That's great."At the end of the 2011 season, many players in the Twins clubhouse were confident in the team's ability to bounce back in 2012 if they could get healthy again. There are still several weeks before Minnesota breaks camp and heads north, but the Twins have a relatively clean bill of health so far. Pitchers such as Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker, who endured arm injuries late last season, have had bright spots this spring. As has left-hander Francisco Liriano, who had a nagging shoulder injury this time last year that lingered throughout the season."The way I feel right now, nothing's bothering me right now," Liriano said earlier this week after a scoreless start against Tampa Bay.Nothing's bothering many Twins right now, and that's what they'll hope for as they prepare for Opening Day on April 6 in Baltimore. Like it was in 2011, health will be key for better or worse."It's a part of it. It's not the biggest (part)," Ryan said about his team's health. "Even if you're healthy, you've still got to go out and perform."Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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