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Twins' Kubel has surgery on other knee

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • November 29, 2006 - 9:14 PM

Twins outfielder Jason Kubel needed surgery last week to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but should be ready for spring training in February,

Kubel tore three ligaments in his left knee in 2004 and was forced to miss the entire 2005 season. He batted .241 with eight homers in 73 games last season, but his mobility was limited. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan suspects that Kubel injured his right knee by compensating for his left.

"Everything structurally is fine," Ryan said. "He will be ready to go. I'm almost relieved that there was something in the good knee that didn't allow him to function. We have the health issues taken care of now, so we can move on."

The Twins are willing to hand over the starting left field job to Kubel if he's healthy. Kubel, 24, is a career .320 hitter in the minors.

"I don't have to give him a pep talk," Ryan said. "I gave him the lay of the land here. There's ample opportunity for him to come in and get a job, but we want to make sure people win them and don't give them up."

The Twins have few other options for left field. Free agency might not be a solution. The Twins already need starting pitching and a designated hitter and might not have the money to sign even mid-range talent to fill those holes.

Liriano in Miami

The Twins and agents for lefthander Francisco Liriano have agreed to have Liriano rehabilitate in Miami.

Liriano, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last month and will miss the entire 2007 season, will work with Ray Jaffet. The Twins are familiar with Jaffet, who has helped Shannon Stewart with his plantar fascitis problems in recent seasons.

Talent search

Ryan is preparing to meet with teams and agents at next week's winter meetings in Orlando. Like many other league executives, he has been startled by the expensive free agent market and might not be able to afford a quality starter. The Twins were interested in Rockies righthander Jason Jennings, but those talks have cooled.

The Twins like righthander Gil Meche, but he's in line for a big contract after Adam Eaton rocked the market with his three-year, $24 million deal with Philadelphia.

"We'll find somebody," Ryan said. But don't be surprised if the Twins look to Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Glen Perkins or J.D. Durbin to fill out their rotation next year.

Notes

• Hockey legend Gordie Howe recently called Justin

Morneau to congratulate him on winning the A.L. MVP award.

• Ryan said the club and outfielder Rondell White have agreed to "keep all options open" about a return to the club. White feels he has unfinished business because he battled shoulder problems most of the season, and the free-agent market might make White an affordable solution. The Twins prefer White to DH while Kubel plays left.

La Velle E. Neal III • lneal@startribune,com

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