Healthier Cuddyer's ready to go

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2011 - 10:10 PM

After three surgeries since the end of last season, he's ready to return to the outfield and play with less pain.

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Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer

Photo: Charles Krupa, Associated Press

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Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who admits he played on a painful knee while replacing Justin Morneau at first base last year, now has had three different surgeries since the 2010 season ended and he still isn't 100 percent in the final week of spring training. The latest surgery was to remove a wart from his left foot earlier this month.

"The wart came about around November, and I went to see a dermatologist back home in Virginia and we got it frozen off," Cuddyer said. "Then we went back about three weeks later, got it frozen again, nothing seemed to work, so we started putting Compound W [on it].

"Then when I got back down here [Fort Myers, Fla.], we got a prescription cream that we got done and nothing seemed to work. March 1 came around and we were pretty much backs against the wall, so we ended up cutting it out."

Cuddyer said he still has a hole under his foot and it's not completely healed, but now it's manageable.

Cuddyer also had surgery to clean out his right knee at the end of last season, then had an emergency appendectomy back home in Virginia about 10 days later.

Cuddyer said the beginning of the offseason was a little rough for him, but he was still able to get his work in. However, the outstanding all-around player said that if he hadn't had surgery and had the wart removed, he doubts he would have been able to play.

"If I hadn't [had surgery], I would not even be close to being able to play," Cuddyer said. "It would have been extremely tough. Like I said, we got it to the point now where at least it's manageable. There's still a wound there, but at the same time I can go out and play."

It's amazing Cuddyer had the successful season he had last season (.271 batting average, 14 homers and 81 RBI) because the pain in his knee was so great that he couldn't work out his legs. Without that exercise, it was difficult to hit and play every day. It also helps explain Cuddyer's drop in power, after he hit 32 homers in 2009.

"Yeah, the knee feels great," Cuddyer said. "What [the surgery] allowed me to do was go back to working out my legs. Last year, because the pain was so high, I couldn't do any leg workouts. I couldn't lift with my legs. Being able to clean it out and get the surgery allowed me to go back to being able to work out with my legs."

Cuddyer said rest originally was prescribed for his knee, but that wasn't enough to cure the problem.

"It started at the end of '09 and we thought it was just tendinitis, which originally it was," he said. "So they prescribed rest and let the offseason kind of take its course, and unfortunately that didn't work. We got to the point where it was too late [last season] to have it cleaned out, too late to have the surgery, and so we just dealt with it the whole season and took care of it at the end of last year."

Now in the last year of a four-year, $33.5 million contract and healthier than he was a year ago, Cuddyer is in a position to have an even better season than last year.

Cuddyer says the team is obviously better with a healthy Morneau back at first base and himself returning to right field, so he looks for good things for the team this season.

Big numbers for Twins

The most recent issue of Forbes Magazine gives the Twins franchise a value of $490 million, ranked 12th among teams in major league baseball. The team's value rose 21 percent, mostly because of the opening of Target Field, and the Twins made a profit of $26.5 million.

Also noted in the article was Joe Mauer's $184 million contract, which is the fourth-largest in major league history, and Ron Gardenhire having the third-longest tenure among MLB managers.

Forbes further reported that the Twins' average ticket prices increased 45 percent last year, helping boast total stadium revenue by $75 million. Their average television rating of 8.8 on Fox Sports North in 2010 was the second-highest in baseball, and their attendance of 3.2 million was the sixth-most in baseball.

Successful Tommies

With the University of St. Thomas recently winning the Division III championship in men's basketball and being an overall success in all sports, Tommies athletic director and basketball coach Steve Fritz was asked if St. Thomas might go Division I like other area colleges have.

"No, we're real comfortable where we are," he said. "There's a lot to it and so much infrastructure and cost to it that would be involved. I think it would probably cost you football. I don't think you could run a Division I football program in the Twin Cities outside of the Gophers.

"We're very happy where we are. We really would have to feel that it was something that would help the university become a national university if we wanted to do that. But Division III fits us very well."

Jttings

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi is still debating about accepting a one-year extension he has been offered by new university president Eric Kaler. Some close friends wonder whether he will accept it, with all the recent aggravation with the program. He has a year from June on his current contract. ... The Gophers will have a practice open to students and the public at TCF Bank Stadium on April 15.

Among the national speakers at the Minnesota Football Coaches Association clinic on March 31-April 2 will be Dave Christensen of the University of Wyoming and Tony DeMeo of the University of Charleston.

Cretin-Derham Hall has another outstanding athlete in 6-0, 300-pound junior Jonathan Harden, a star in both football and basketball and who will be a top recruit like former Raiders lineman Seantrel Henderson, who is still at the University of Miami.

Luke Ridnour is close to becoming the most accurate free-throw shooter in Wolves franchise history for a season. He has converted 89.2 percent of his free-throw attempts this season (116 of 130) and is just behind Micheal Williams' club record of 90.7 during the 1992-93 season (minimum 100 free throws).

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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