Posted at 8:03 PM on September 24, 2008
by David Zingler
The Twins wouldn't still be in the Central Division race if it weren't for Jason Kubel. With Michael Cuddyer missing most of the season due to various injuries, it was Kubel who stepped up and became the Twins invaluable third offensive force.
Still just 26-years-old, Kubel enters tonight's game second on the team in homeruns (20) and third in RBI (78). The soft-spoken designated hitter sat down with me today to discuss his breakout season.
DZ: You have to be happy about the way things went last night (two homeruns and a triple). Where does it rank among your career highlights?
KUBEL: It's up there because of the circumstances. It was one of my better games - yeah.
DZ: You hit your 20th homerun - a milestone you haven't reached before - what does that mean to you?
KUBEL: I set out to hit 20+ -- it's just a start. I feel like I can do more than 20, so we'll see what happens the next couple of years.
DZ: Just looking how things have progressed from '06 to '07 to this year - you have to be pretty happy with that.
KUBEL: Yeah, but I think I can do better. Each year I keep getting a little better - that's a good thing - hopefully it keeps up and doesn't stop.
DZ: Does your knee bother you at all anymore?
KUBEL: No, (the pain) is gone. It doesn't bother me at all anymore.
DZ: How long did (the knee) set you back?
KUBEL: Only a year. I came back and had my other knee bother me - that was basically that - it hasn't bothered me since.
DZ: I've talked to you before, you're a quiet guy - the fans don't know a whole lot about you - what do you like to do off the field?
KUBEL: I like to spend as much time with my family - my wife and baby - as I can. I am gone so much; I don't have much time to see them. So, pretty much all I want to do on my off time is be with them.
DZ: You live in California near your hometown...
KUBEL: Yeah, both of our parents live near our place, it's kind of easy for us...when I am on a road trip, she goes home. It's pretty cool.
DZ: You've been DHing a lot and playing a little outfield. Have you been approached at all about playing first base and spelling Morneau a little?
KUBEL: I've actually talked to Morneau a little bit about it. I haven't talked to the coaches about it, but it's something I want to look into, do in spring training next year, get something going. I feel like I could do it and it's something that could give Morny a break and (help me) stay in the line-up.
DZ: When you first came up back in '04, you wore No. 1 then you switched to 16, what is the story behind that?
KUBEL: (No. 1) was my number at my first big league spring training and I got called up and just kept it. I wanted to get rid of it anyway, but then (Luis) Castillo came over and I just kind of gave it up and took something different.
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
September 11: Denard Span
September 10: Mike Redmond
August 21: Randy Ruiz
August 20: Glen Perkins
August 12: Matt Guerrier
August 1: Nick Punto
July 31: Justin Morneau
July 30: Scott Baker
June 30: Brian Bass
June 27: Brian Buscher
June 18: Matt Macri
June 6: Craig Breslow
June 4: Michael Cuddyer
May 25: Nick Punto & Mike Redmond
May 20: Justin Morneau
May 1: Nick Blackburn
April 29: Brendan Harris
April 20: Jason Kubel
April 17: Denard Span
April 2: Matt Tolbert
Great article. Kubel is really having a great year.