Posted at 7:57 PM on June 4, 2008
by David Zingler
Although Michael Cuddyer doesn't even turn 30 until next March, he is already the senior member of the Twins. During his tenure in Minnesota, he's been a top prospect, a utility man, an after thought and finally a vital member of the Twins offense.
I caught up with Cuddyer before tonight's game to discuss his early season struggles and the impending birth of his first child (a son, to be named Casey), among other things.
DZ: You've gotten your bat going here in the last couple of weeks, how are you feeling right now?
CUDDYER: I feel good. I haven't really done anything different. The balls are just starting to find holes and starting to find some outfield grass.
DZ: In your personal life, you've got a big day coming up...
CUDDYER: In less than three weeks my wife Claudia and I are expecting our first child, so we are starting to get anxious. She is starting to get a little bit uncomfortable and hopefully everything will go well and the baby is healthy.
DZ: Nick Punto's wife just had a baby too; do you guys talk about that at all?
CUDDYER: We talk about what it was like when he was in there and she was delivering the baby and stuff like that. We are both going to be going through fatherhood at pretty much the same time. It will be fun.
DZ: Have you talked to your dad for advice?
CUDDYER: (laughs) No, I saw how I turned out and I don't want (my son) to end up like that. We'll learn on the go.
DZ: You seem like you are doing all right...When you go through a rough stretch like you just did, how do you keep your spirits up?
CUDDYER: You go through (slumps) during the course of the season, it's just unfortunate when you go through them at the beginning of the season because it looks a lot worse. You don't have any built-up stats to carry you through your slump or slide or whatever you want to call it. When you struggle in July or August and you've had good months prior, it doesn't look as bad. You just battle through it; you know you are not going to end up hitting .220 for the season.
DZ: You signed a new contract in the off-season, did you put too much pressure on yourself?
CUDDYER: No, not at all. I don't worry about the contract; I just worry about going out there and helping the team win. The contract is over and done with; there is no reason to put pressure on yourself or anything like that. You just go out there and play baseball.
DZ: You're the senior guy (on the team) now; does it kind of blow your mind that you are already there?
CUDDYER: I've been here - up and down - since 2001, so it's been quite a while. I've seen some things - it's the only organization I know - so when guys come over here and want to know how things go on, I try to help them out.
DZ: You've gone up-and-down like you said and switched positions; do you try to help out the younger guys that are going through the same things?
CUDDYER: Yeah, especially guys who are switching positions, you just tell them to stick with it and you'll find a home.
DZ: Father's Day is coming up; it will be your last Father's Day without being a father...
CUDDYER: It could be. Hopefully the baby doesn't come early. It might be my first Father's Day!
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)