Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/24/12
PROJECTED STARTERS LF Ben Revere, .267 BA, 30 RBIs, 34 steals in 2011; CF Denard Span, .264 BA, 16 RBIs, 5 triples in 2011 (70 games); RF Josh Willingham, .246 BA, 29 HRs, 98 RBIs in 2011 (with Oakland).Minnesota's outfield will have a different look this season, as long-time Twins outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel signed with Colorado and Arizona, respectively, as free agents this winter. Minnesota signed free agent Josh Willingham with the hope that he'll fill the void left by Cuddyer and Kubel. Willingham hit a career-high 29 home runs last season with the Athletics, and the Twins are hoping Willingham can provide power from the right side of the plate. He's hit a pair of home runs this spring and has six RBIs through 13 games in Grapefruit League action. But Willingham is likely going to be Minnesota's starting right fielder, a position he's rarely played in his eight-year major league career. He's spent most of his time in left field 654 games and just 34 total games in right field.Meanwhile, Span returns after a concussion suffered during the 2011 season, which limited him to just 70 games. He returned for the final week of last season, and has said he feels healthy so far this spring. If he stays healthy, he'll hold down the starting job in center field.When Span was injured in 2011, Revere held down the center field spot. He and Span should cover plenty of ground in left field and center field. In 117 games his first full season Revere stole 34 bases, setting a Twins rookie record. "I think he's definitely going to be the leader as far as that category," Span said of Revere's ability to steal bases. "I think he might encourage all of us, watching him play. I think watching him take bases, it might open it up for everybody to take those chances and be more aggressive."Still, the Twins want the speedy Revere to bunt more to boost both his batting average and on-base percentage."He's worked really hard at it, and he's going to have to do that more often," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Revere's bunting. "The thing with him, people say, Well with two outs you need to hit a double.' That is a double for him most of the time. A bunt base hit can turn into a double in a heartbeat because he steals second base. He can use that at any time."Revere has been working on his bunting with former Twin and Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who finished his career with 151 bunt hits in 190 attempts, according to baseballprospectus.com."My first big league camp I was working with him on my bunt game. He's been telling me each year it's gotten better," Revere said of Carew. "Hopefully by next spring training if I'm still with the Twins, I could be just like him, how he bunts. So I'll definitely put that in my game and make a lot of defenses mad."PROJECTED BACKUPS Trevor Plouffe, .238 BA, 8 HRs, 31 RBIs in 2011; Joe Benson, .239 BA, 2 RBIs, 2 steals in 2011 (21 games); Ryan Doumit, .303 BA, 8 HRs, 30 RBIs in 2011 (77 games).The Twins moved Plouffe from shortstop to outfield this offseason to give them more depth at the position. Plouffe struggled defensively at shortstop in 2011, but seems to have taken to his new position so far this spring."He's picking it up. It's good. He's a heck of a player," Revere said of Plouffe. "He can throw. He can hit. He's just got a lot of power. Him making that transition, he looks pretty nice, just for one year. He's a pretty good player."Benson made his big league debut last season, playing 21 games in September. The speedy outfielder has had a good spring, batting .294 with a pair of homers and a team-high 10 RBIs in 14 games through Friday. When Benson was called up last season, he bypassed Triple-A altogether. He'll be fighting for a roster spot during the last two weeks of spring training."He can run it down in the outfield. He's got a cannon. He's got all the tools," Gardenhire said of Benson. "Now it's about harnessing that. Making it to the big leagues (last year) is a good thing. He saw what he needed to work on."Doumit's primary position is catcher, but he's played some outfield during his seven-year career. He played a bit of left field so far this spring, a position he's never played in his big league career. Doumit spent 58 total games in right field over seven seasons."I'm confident that it'll just come with reps," Doumit said of playing left field. "I feel good out there."OTHER AL CENTRAL STARTERS LF Shelley Duncan, CF Michael Brantley, RF Shin-Soo Choo (Indians); LF Alex Gordon, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur (Royals); LF Delmon Young, CF Austin Jackson, RF Brennan Boesch (Tigers); LF Dayan Viciedo, CF Alejandro De Aza, RF Alex Rios (White Sox).Former Twins outfielder Delmon Young, now with the Tigers, has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball this spring. Through Friday, he has five home runs and 19 RBIs while batting .436. He was traded to Detroit last August and hit eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 40 games with the Tigers and the end of 2011. The Indians will have to juggle their outfielders, as injury-plagued Grady Sizemore will start the year on the disabled list after having back surgery. He likely won't rejoin Cleveland for at least two months. The Indians are also hoping Choo can stay healthy after playing just 85 games in 2011 with a thumb injury.At 23 years old, Viciedo is one of the youngest outfielders in the division. He's played 67 combined games between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, batting .282. Gordon was one of Kansas City's most productive hitters last season, batting .303 with a team-high 23 homers, 87 RBIs and 45 doubles. Francoeur wasn't far behind, with a .285 average, 20 homers and 47 doubles.Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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