FORT MYERS, FLA.

Ron Gardenhire wrote out what looks like an Opening Day lineup on Thursday night. At least, it should be his opening day lineup, with perhaps one exception.

Here's the order: Carlos Gomez, CF; Joe Mauer, C; Michael Cuddyer, RF; Justin Morneau, 1B; Delmon Young, LF; Craig Monroe, DH; Mike Lamb, 3B; Brendan Harris, 2B; Adam Everett, SS.

Monroe likely will share the DH role with Jason Kubel during the season, and Kubel should get a lot of at-bats this year, coming off a strong second half in 2007.

Other than that, this is the first lineup Gardenhire should try out in what could be a season of experimentation under the Teflon sky.

From the beginning:

Leadoff: Denard Span has played pretty well this spring, and he might be a safer pick than Gomez. If the Twins were looking for comfort and making all of their judgments based on spring training performances, Span would be a logical choice.

But teams should never make decisions based on spring training performances, which can fool you as surely as infomercials. Let's consider the big picture: Gomez was the centerpiece of the Santana trade. Gomez is considered a better long-term prospect than Span. Gomez has better tools. Gomez is more exciting.

During their minor-league careers, Span had a higher batting average and on-base percentage, but did not fare nearly as well in slugging percentage or steals.

If he's ready, Gomez could energize the entire franchise. If he's not, the Twins can bring up Span early in the season and the supremely confident Gomez can head to Triple-A more aware of his flaws.

No. 2: I'd prefer to see Mauer as the leadoff hitter. Even in a down year, Mauer had the Twins' best on-base percentage last season. If I were writing the lineup, I'd want my best on-base percentage hitter leading off, to try to build big innings.

That said, Mauer should be an ideal No. 2 hitter, as well, because of his ability to work the count and pull grounders through the right side.

No. 3: Young should graduate to this spot eventually, but Gardenhire said he thinks Cuddyer will handle the role better now, and Cuddyer did have a better on-base percentage last year.

No. 4: Morneau is the Twins' best cleanup hitter since Harmon Killebrew.

No. 5: Young had a .316 on-base percentage last year, a remarkably low rate for a hitter of his gifts. Then again, he was 21 most of the season. He's a remarkable talent who should thrive this season.

"I like those guys in that order -- Mauer, Cuddy, Morneau, Delmon,'' Gardenhire said. "They all look comfortable.''

No. 6: Kubel and Monroe give the Twins a chance to dramatically increase the production from the DH spot, a black hole last year. Kubel should get most of the at-bats. He hit .303 after the All-Star break last year, should punish lefties, and could be a big part of the future if he can revive his career.

No. 7: Lamb is a career .281 hitter with a .339 on-base percentage, and has averaged 12 homers and 323 at-bats the past four years. Those numbers are not impressive unless you compare them to what Twins third basemen produced last year.

Twins third basemen ranked last in the league in slugging percentage. So did Twins second baseman, bringing us to ...

No. 8: Harris, like Lamb, won't need to do anything extraordinary to be an immense offensive improvement. Harris is supposedly competing for the second base job with Nick Punto. Realistically, the Twins acquired Harris to improve their woeful run production.

This lineup makes sense with Harris' bat instead of Punto's, and the four-man bench better if it includes Punto, who can play three infield positions brilliantly and can handle three outfield positions if necessary.

No. 9: Everett is a wonderful fielder with a career .248 average. He hasn't hit higher than that since 2004. It would be foolish to expect him to be anything other than an offensive speed bump.

The Twins finished 12th in the league in scoring and slugging percentage last year. With a rotation that is iffy at best, they'll need to score a lot more runs this year. Maybe hundreds more. They need to pack the lineup with every functional bat they can find, and hope that, as in 2006, virtually all of their key players have career years.

Spring training is the residence of just such hopes.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP.