Posted at 9:00 AM on April 20, 2008
by David Zingler
If the Twins offense is ever going to get going, expect Jason Kubel to play a big role. The former top prospect's development was stunted by a devastating knee injury in 2004, but after a year of rehab and a season and a half of spent getting his legs under him, the soft-spoken outfielder looks to have rediscovered his stroke. I caught up with Kubel last week to see what was on his mind.
DZ: You had a strong finish to last season and seem to have picked it up this year. How are you feeling right now?
KUBEL: I am feeling pretty good. Each day I am getting more comfortable...I feel 100 times better this year than I did at this time last year.
DZ: Did you do anything different in the off-season?
KUBEL: I felt better physically...I have some confidence, that's pretty much all you need.
DZ: How much different is your confidence level right now versus last year at this time?
KUBEL: It's about 100 times better because I came off a pretty bad season two years ago coming into last year and kind of picked up where I left off there. But, I was able to turn it around and keep that going for this year.
DZ: Do you feel like you are a big leaguer now?
KUBEL: Yeah. I am feeling it. I am getting my at-bats which I am happy about, I can't ask for anything more. Each time I go out there, I feel more and more part of the team.
DZ: Right now you are splitting time between rightfield and DH, what are the differences between the two positions?
KUBEL: I have been DHing quite a bit and I am getting comfortable doing it. When I get thrown back in rightfield, a little bit of nerves fire up but that goes away when the game starts. Any way I can get in there is fine.
DZ: Is there a different mindset (between the positions)?
KUBEL: I think so. At DH I can just concentrate on hitting, but in the outfield I think less about hitting and concentrate on everything else. It's all part of it.
DZ: You seemed to play pretty well in left last year. Do think your fielding ability is overlooked?
KUBEL: I think I do pretty well in the outfield. It's just that the circumstances we have now (allows me) to DH quite a bit. It doesn't bother me; I just want to get in the game.
DZ: You've hit 3 homers so far; do you think you can be a guy that hits 25 to 30 in a season?
KUBEL: I think so. Yeah. I just haven't been able to start off like I have this year. As long as I keep it up, I feel like I can between (25 or 30) or more.
DZ: You turn 26 in May, so you are still a really young guy, but when you look around you are probably in the top level of seniority on this team.
KUBEL: I am one of the older guys now, it's weird but that's the way it is. It's fun being a part of a group of young, talented guys.