FOUR GOES INTO THREE ...
Here's the breakdown of the four outfielders competing for starting jobs this spring:
Position: Right field, although he could play left, and he spent most of his early career as an infielder.
Acquired: First-round draft pick of Twins in 1997
Why he should win a starting job: The Twins signed him to a three-year, $24-million contract before the 2008 season, and view him as a team leader who provides an example of the way they like to play, and his righthander power potential would help balance a left-leaning lineup.
Why he might not: A series of odd injuries have kept him from repeating his career year of 2006, and he's competing with three highly-talented and more-affordable young players. Could Cuddyer be traded if the other three surge?
Position: A natural center fielder who played most often in right last year.
Acquired: First-round draft pick in 2002
Why he should win a starting job: He's the best all-around fielder of the bunch, with excellent speed and more polish than Carlos Gomez, and he's the best leadoff hitter on the team.
Why he might not: He's only experienced a few months of big-league success, and will have to prove he can adapt as big-league scouts look for his weaknesses at the plate.
Position: Center field, although he sees himself as a power-hitting rightf ielder in the future.
Acquired: From the Mets in the Johan Santana trade last winter
Why he should win a starting job: May be the most talented player on the team, with otherwordly speed, plenty of strength, a powerful arm and untapped power. Also, he's the only player from the Santana trade who seems capable of justifying the trade.
Why he might not: If his enthusiasm translates into more bad at-bats and goofy plays instead of improvement.
Position: Left field, although he seems more suited to right in the Metrodome, with his limited range but strong arm.
Acquired: From the Rays in the Matt Garza trade last winter
Why he should win a starting job: If he starts displaying his inherent power, he could become the powerful righthanded bat the Twins crave and set himself up for a wonderful career.
Why he might not: If he reverts to 2008 form, slapping balls to right field, and doesn't impress the Twins' staff with his outfield play.