Posted at 9:03 AM on August 25, 2005
by David Zingler
The 45th season of Minnesota Twins baseball has been marked with instability, from the inconsistent offensive to their on-again off-again playoff hopes; the team has been in a constant state of flux. Likewise, the roster has followed suit – we opened the year with Corky Miller, the second half with Bret Boone and have seen likes of Terry Tiffee, Luis Rodriguez, Jason Bartlett, Michael Ryan, Scott Baker and Dave Gassner, among others, shuffle back and forth between the big leagues and Triple A Rochester.
One of those “others” is journeyman infielder Brent Abernathy, who ranks as one of the more obscure members of the 2005 version of our Little Team that Could. Since 2003, Abernathy has bounced from the Devil Rays to the Royals to the Tigers to the Indians organization before signing a minor league contract with the Twins in January.
“I actually (signed) late,” the 27-year-old explained. “I spoke with Terry (Ryan) on New Years Day and decided it was the right fit for me. My whole mindset is to do whatever I can to help the team win and that seems to fit here.”
Despite hitting .291 with a .357 on-base-percentage and 10 homeruns in 2004, Abernathy was unable to find a way out of Buffalo, Cleveland’s Triple A affiliate. “Last year was a situation where there were no injuries at the big league level and all the infielders had a great year,” he pointed out. “An opportunity just didn’t come up...you can’t control that, you just put yourself in a position to succeed and help the club at the big league level.”
The constant movement and the limited big league action (he appeared in a combined 10 major league games in 2003 and 2004) has tested Abernathy’s resolve, “At times it can (get discouraging),” the Atlanta native admitted, “but at the same time, you know that there are teams out there that want you and think you can help.”
“It hasn’t been easy the past few years, you definitely have to love what you are doing and take pride in your work everyday,” the baby-faced infielder continued. “There is definitely some tough times, moving a lot and not knowing from day-to-day where you are going to be, but that’s part of baseball, part of what we do and my family – my wife – understands that and supports what I do and whatever decisions I make.”
Not being a member of the 40-man roster, Abernathy was a long shot to make the opening day roster heading into spring training, a fact he chose to ignore. “I really wasn’t too concerned (with making the opening day roster), my main concern is going out and playing well and getting ready for the season,” he pointed out. “You can’t worry about things that you can’t control. You go in and try to get to know some of the players and the big league (coaching) staff and try to impress upon them that you are capable of playing at this level so if something were to happen during the season and they needed to call on you, they wouldn’t hesitate to do it.”
With an infield ravaged by injuries and lack of production, the Twins did call upon Abernathy, who was hitting well over .300 at Rochester, on June 1. Two days later, he hit his first big league homerun in over three years.
The good times didn’t last long however, as he was placed on the Disabled List on June 17 with a bruised shoulder and sent back to Triple A immediately after being activated on July 2. The resilient veteran picked up where he left off at Rochester however, and was recalled earlier this month when shortstop Juan Castro was placed on the DL.
Despite the constant roller coaster ride, Abernathy remains motivated. “More than anything (I) love to compete,” the former Olympian commented. “Everybody knows that baseball is a business, but at the same time, the fun for me is to go out and compete on a daily basis as a 25 man group. The highs of winning ballgames far exceed any of the low times.”
After all, what else would he be doing?
“I don’t have a clue,” he said before pausing. “Probably coaching, I’d have to do something within the game.”