Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/28/13
MINNEAPOLIS Josh Willingham followed up his career year by having a pretty good offseason. The Twins outfielder and Alabama native is also a season ticket holder to the University of Alabama football team. As a result, he secured tickets to the BCS Championship game, which pitted the Crimson Tide against Notre Dame. Willingham and his family made the trip to Miami for the game, which his Alabama squad won in convincing fashion by a 42-14 final. Willingham also accompanied Wayne "Big Fella" Hattaway, a longtime Twins employee, current clubhouse attendant and fellow Alabaman, to his first-ever Crimson Tide game. "That's a whole different story," Willingham quipped. "You could write, like, three articles about that." Now that Willingham is done watching his favorite college football reach the pinnacle of its sport, he's hoping to bring the Twins one step closer to a similar goal in baseball. Minnesota endured a 96-loss season last year, which was Willingham's first with the team. The 33-year-old Willingham was the best offensive player on that team, belting team highs in home runs (35) and RBI (110). Both of those were career highs for Willingham in his nine seasons in the majors. Now entering his 10th year in the league, is there any reason to believe Willingham can't put up similar numbers for the Twins in 2013? "I don't see any reason why he can't come close to duplicating, now that he's familiar with the environment up here and certainly the staff and the ballpark and everything that involves a major move coming form Oakland," said Twins general manager Terry Ryan. "He's a solid guy. I don't think you're going to see much waver out of his performance." Of course, staying on the field will be key for Willingham. As he put up career highs in offensive numbers, he also did so in the number of games he played (145). "You have to be able to be on the field to do it," Willingham said. "Just try and get into a rhythm, try and get comfortable and play every day. I think if that happens, I'll put up good numbers. I don't know if they'll be that good, but they should be productive." Willingham signed with Minnesota as a free agent last offseason after spending just one season with Oakland. He also spent two seasons in Washington and five with Florida before that. Willingham joined a Twins team that plays in pitcher-friendly Target Field, but the right-handed slugger made the park seem small. In fact, 21 of Willingham's 35 homers came at Target Field. Most of those were pulled to left field or left-center. "I loved hitting there," Willingham said. "Obviously the park's big, but I feel like if I hit it well, I can hit it out." While pitching was a problem for Minnesota last year and remains a big question mark entering 2013, the Twins' lineup should be able to score some runs, thanks to the likes of Willingham and Co. Minnesota scored 701 runs, third-most in the division, but their pitching staff gave up an American League high 832 runs. Most of Willingham's at-bats in 2012 came as the Twins' cleanup hitter between catcher Joe Mauer and first baseman Justin Morneau. Of course, Minnesota lost its Nos. 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup in Denard Span and Ben Revere, who helped set the table for Willingham. Finding guys to replace them and get on base ahead of Mauer, Willingham and Morneau will be key. "The meat of our order's back. I think you'll see a healthier Justin, obviously," Willingham said. "We'll have to find some guys at the top to be able to get on base like Ben and Denard did. That's always a key to have your top two guys get on base. But you look at the meat of our order, you've got Joe, Justin, me, Ryan (Doumit) and Trevor (Plouffe). It's a pretty formidable lineup. If we can figure out a couple things at the top, that will help us." The Twins signed Willingham to a three-year deal, meaning he's inked through the 2014 season. He'll make 7 million each of the next two seasons. If Willingham can produce like he did in 2012, that dollar amount will be a bargain for Minnesota. Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Report: Title contender planning to poach Curry from Warriors

Fitzpatrick on negotiations: I wouldn’t wish it on anybody

NBA players to fund health insurance for former players

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Geno Smith 'intent' on beating out Ryan Fitzpatrick

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

Jack Nicklaus puzzled by Tiger Woods' woes, golf absence

Brown responds to Marshall's high-stakes challenge

Seven most mind-boggling NFL contracts of 2016

Is Jackie Bradley Jr. the Red Sox’s MVP?

Did Joey Votto reject kid who asked for his batting gloves?

Rams got it right releasing Nick Foles, trusting Jared Goff

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker