After a rocky experience trying to fit in at third base, he has developed into one of the game's best at his position. Finding his niche has also helped him at the plate.
Michael Cuddyer now has four assists from right field in his past six games.
The Twins right fielder leads the major leagues with 13 assists, already two better than his best of 11 for the entire 2006 season.
As a third baseman, Cuddyer was average. As a right fielder, he has certainly become one of the best in the American League.
"I feel like I can actually help the team out there on defense," Cuddyer said. "I can actually do some good things rather than just being out there at third base and trying not to mess up.
"I'm comfortable out there, I feel good out there, and it works for our lineup with Nick Punto at third base. I always had a pretty decent arm -- I could always hold my own out there in the field."
Cuddyer said he has a lot more confidence playing right field than he had at third base.
He made 15 errors at third base in 2005 before being shifted to the outfield, where had no errors in 20 games. He made five errors last year in 143 games in the outfield, and he has one this year.
"Again, I feel like I can help the team -- when a ball goes out there, I feel like I can do some things. I think that takes a little bit of pressure off you at the plate as well."
And the fact that he knows he is in the lineup in right field every day, regardless of what happened the day before, makes a difference. It's quite a contrast to when he not an everyday third baseman.
Even as a kid, Cuddyer added, he showed a strong arm even when playing catch.
"I threw every single day. In the summer, I don't think there was one day when I didn't throw," he said. "In high school I played football. I was a quarterback -- so again I was throwing the football. So I think it's just a matter of playing catch and throwing the ball, which you don't see too many young kids doing nowadays."
Cuddyer was a good enough in football to be recruited by North Carolina and Virginia but gave up the sport his senior year to concentrate on baseball.
While there isn't as much talk about signing Cuddyer to a long-term contract as there is with Torii Hunter, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau, Cuddyer has a great future.
Fortunately, he won't be a free agent until after the 2009 season, so right field will be in good shape until then.
Morneau is hitting .273 with 46 RBI, second on the team to Hunter's 49, and leads the team with 17 home runs.
But the 2006 American League MVP is not happy with his production.
"I'm just battling. It's been inconsistent all year. I'll eventually turn it around, and it should be fun," he said after going 0-for-5 on Sunday against Washington.
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Mazzaro||4|
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||6||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: B. Morrow||12|
|Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister||12||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: R. Dempster||3|
|Minnesota - LP: J. Burton||6||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: J. Benoit||7|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Blanton||5||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||4|
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