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Aaron Hicks is back as the Opening Day center fielder for the second year in a row, hoping to show he has learned from his repeated miscues as a rookie in 2013.

File photo by Steven Senne • Associated Press,

Ron Gardenhire is back in his 13th season as Twins manager, having survived three consecutive 90-loss seasons.

File photo by Bill Kostroun • Associated Press,

Souhan: A request to the Twins — show us something

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN
  • Star Tribune
  • March 31, 2014 - 11:19 AM

– The Twins website features an advertisement by a matchmaking company inviting single Twins fans to meet. This is what marketers call “synergy.”

Singles. Striking out. What better words to describe dating, or the Twins lineup?

Here’s a romantic request for the Twins from the dwindling number of Minnesotans who still care about baseball:

Show us something this year.

Heck, show us anything.

Show us some fire, some grit; some passion, some promise.

Show us that three years of unprofessional play was a detour, not a destination.

Show us that you care about something other than paychecks and per diems. You’re supposed to be in the entertainment business, even if everyone who has watched you since 2011 has forgotten that.

You, Joe Mauer: Show us you want to play every day. Now that you’re not catching, there is no need for the gratuitous, recuperative day off. You can rest when you retire. Playing 162 games should be a goal you fail to attain only because of compound fractures.

You, Aaron Hicks: Prove that last year didn’t break you, and show off in center field before Byron Buxton takes over for the next decade.

You, Trevor Plouffe: Wake up. Time to react to ground balls to your left before the left fielder throws them back to the infield. You get one year to establish value before Miguel Sano heals.

You, Josh Willingham: Prove that your knee injury was the sole cause for your problems last year, and accept a move to designated hitter if the Twins are ever smart enough to ask. If Mauer plays every day, you will have plenty of chances to drive him in this year. You and Hicks have the power to upgrade what might otherwise be one of the three lousiest lineups in baseball. With a good year, you could become part of the future. With a bad year, you will be playing for a fifth team next season.

You, Ricky Nolasco: Whether you realize it or not, signing a big contract means you’re in a position of visibility and responsibility. You need to act like an ace even if you’re not one.

You, Phil Hughes: You’ve been given a gift — a large ballpark and a low-pressure environment. This is your chance to rebuild your pitching reputation.

You, Brian Dozier: Keep it up. In what has been a dead clubhouse on a bad team, you’ve at least shown signs of life and improvement.

You, Anthony Swarzak: Time for someone other than the long reliever to be the team’s MVP.

You, Ron Gardenhire: You have a baseball genius, Paul Molitor, at your disposal. You’ve done a lot of things well as the Twins manager over the past 12 years, but you need a calm sounding board for late-game decisions. Molitor is that guy. Use him.

You, Twins marketers: Stop beating us over the head with the past. Every time you build a campaign around a former player all you do is remind us of how lousy the product is today.

You, Twins front office: Don’t be afraid to bust your budget to prove that you’re trying to win. It’s the best marketing move your franchise could make.

You, Twins prospects: Hurry up. Your presence is required.

You, Twins fans: I know you’re sick of the losing, but thinking that current losing is linked to perpetual losing is to ignore Twins history. They were lousy in the early ’80s while grooming the players who won two World Series. They were lousy in the late ’90s while developing the players who would dominate the American League Central for a decade. Thinking that their prospects are overrated because their current team is woeful is a non sequitur.

Buxton, Sano, Alex Meyer and a slew of other prospects are the real deal, even if the Twins’ bridge to the future features more potholes than Washington Avenue.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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