Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/7/12

Darin Mastroianni, the Minnesota Twins' fourth outfielder, has worked with trainer Perry Castellano on a regimen to keep himself ready for defense even when he isn't playing. On Tuesday in Chicago, that meant a series of long tosses to the center field wall at U.S. Cellular Field, where the Twins were playing the White Sox.

Castellano would toss the ball over the fence, just out of reach, and Mastroianni would try to leap and catch it. Mostly it was about finding the wall while watching the ball, but as Mastroianni noted, "We had a little fun there at the end trying to bring some back."

It's been a fun season in general for Mastroianni, even as his team has remained mired in the American League Central's basement for most of the year. Claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays in February, he started the season with Minnesota's Class AA team in New Britain, Conn., but was called up to the big leagues for his first real look in fairly short order.

He's been in the majors ever since, earning a spot with the team and, since center fielder Denard Span went down with a collarbone injury last month, in the starting lineup. Like a lot of players, Mastroianni has found new life with a new club, and he's found that being released by the Blue Jays was a blessing in disguise.

"It's funny," he said. "I look back and was so scared all year I was going to get designated because I was having a rough year. I was so worried about it. I look back on it now, and it was the best thing that could have happened. I got claimed by a great organization -- not to say Toronto isn't -- but I really like being here, and obviously got a chance to play in the big leagues the majority of the year. I feel very fortunate."

After playing only one major league game with Toronto, Mastroianni, 27, has played 65 with the Twins, who like his ability to play all three outfield spots and his speed, one of manager Ron Gardenhire's favorite tools. Mastroianni is hitting .262 with three homers and 17 RBI, and he has stolen 18 bases in 20 attempts.

"He's fun to have on your ballclub," Gardennire said. "He can steal a base; he can play any of the outfield spots. He can come in and grab a glove and come in and play the infield. He's a very exciting baseball player, and he's the type of guy where if you can't use him as a starter, you can put him in there, and you're going through one of those blahs, and you put a guy in there like that and he can get stuff going in a heartbeat."

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