Minnesota Twins roster hopeful Jason Kubel has high potential in regaining a spot in the 2014 season lineup.
As a nine-year major league veteran, Kubel has had his series of ups and downs. In his first seven years as a Twin, Kubel hit a .271 average with 104 home runs and 429 RBI.
After the 2011 season, Kubel signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and produced his best year with them in 2012. At the end of the season, Kubel hit a .253 average with 30 home runs and 90 RBI.
Last season, however, was the worst year Kubel had in the major leagues, as a strained left quad put him on the 15-day disabled list and plagued him for the rest of the season.
Upon only playing 89 games for Arizona in 2013, the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment in the middle of August and traded him to the Cleveland Indians, where he played only eight total games. During the short-played 2013 season, Kubel was only able to accumulate a .213 batting average with five home runs and 23 RBI.
This year, Kubel is looking to regain a spot on the Twins 2014 roster as a non-roster invitee.
The only threat that would possibly leave Kubel off the roster is Chris Parmelee, who has not proved much this preseason. Hitting just a .189 average, one home run, three RBI and a slugging percentage of .297, Parmelee has much more to prove and offer to the Twins lineup if he wishes to gain a good roster position.
Kubel has not offered much himself this preseason, either. Hitting only a .200 average with one homer and two RBI, he still has a more likely chance to gain a DH position against right-handed hitters.
Not only is Kubel projected to become a designated hitter, but he will likely take on a few other roles, as well, such as making pinch hitter appearances as well as in the outfield.
With a recent injury-plagued season, Kubel has rebounded and is now healthy as he can be. According to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins organization needs players who know how to win, have a bat that can produce hits, and have experience on and off the field.
As a left-handed power hitter, a player like Kubel is exactly what the Twins need for the upcoming season. At 31-years-old, Kubel will probably be more prone to injury than younger players on the Twins roster, especially coming off an injury-plagued season last year.
But, healthy as he is currently, a slow progression of batting improvement can still be seen in Kubel. If he can continue improving, Kubel will be where he wants to be. It will also be where the Twins need him to be, and that is a batter who can produce runs while at the plate.
And, as Gardenhire had said, Kubel has experience, a factor that the Twins very much need. With that experience, he’ll be able to pass on what he knows to younger players of the major leagues. Having spent a majority of his career with the Twins organization, he knows what needs to be done in order to win. And being as versatile as he is both offensively and defensively, Kubel may be one of the few factors the Twins need for a successful and winning season.