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Continued: Familiar faces of stardom: Eight former Twins fill All-Star rosters

Hardy doesn’t hold a grudge against the Twins because, he said, he didn’t give them a good reason to bring him back after he batted .268 with six homers and played in only 101 games in 2010. He has been healthy with the Orioles, providing smooth defense and some pop from the plate.

“I understand what’s going on there,” he said. “I didn’t play well. I played through the wrist injury. That’s all in the past and no hard feelings. After the 2010 season there were a lot of guys who departed Minnesota. They were looking to go in a different direction.”

The Twins, lacking the experience of several of the aforementioned players, lost a combined 195 games in 2011 and 2012, and are on pace to lose 94 games this season. Other than Gomez’s Brewers and Crain’s White Sox, the other ex-Twins All-Stars have realistic playoff hopes this season.

Impressed early

Nathan is surprised the Twins are where they are at. The Rangers split four games at Target Field in April and thought the Twins were very competitive.

“When we were there, we were actually impressed with how improved they were this year compared to last year,” Nathan said “They are going to do the right things to turn that thing around. They won’t sit back and let that thing go in the wrong direction.”

The Twins demoted three players to the minors Sunday in a roster shakeup and hope to be active before the July 31 trade deadline. But any turnaround will have to come from the core of current players — which includes a rotation that lacks front-end starters and youth at several key positions.

Hunter and Ortiz were on Twins teams that took their lumps from 1998 to 2001, then Cuddyer joined them in 2002 to form a club other franchises wanted to emulate in the 2000s.

They have moved on and thrived. And the things most of them learned as Twins have not been forgotten, the former Twins-turned-All-Stars say.

“It’s tough,” Cuddyer said. “I know those guys aren’t having fun. It’s hard to have fun when you are losing games, but you still have to go out and play and try to get things right. Try to get hot. Try to catch some kind his of spark in order to get that winning feeling back again.

“That’s mainly what it is. You have to get a mentality that you can go out there and win. That’s what we had those years in Minnesota. We felt like we couldn’t lose. Over the last few years, including my last year there, that mentality started to shift.’’

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