Posted at 4:00 PM on September 26, 2008
by David Zingler
On January 26 Michael Cuddyer signed a 3-year, $24 million contract extension giving the 29-year-old financial security. Things went downhill from there. On April 4, he dislocated his right index finger sliding into third base and went on the Disabled List.
The rightfielder returned to action three weeks later, but struggled to regain his form. On June 29, Cuddyer returned to the DL, this time with a strained tendon in his left index finger. On August 8, the 8-year veteran was rehabbing at Triple A Rochester when he was struck on the left foot by a batted ball while standing on first base. X-rays showed a fracture; his season appeared to be over.
Cuddyer however, was determined to return and while, not at 100%, he is ready to contribute off the bench. The always stand-up outfielder talked about his tumultuous 2008 season with me last night:
DZ: After all of the injuries, it's got to feel pretty good to be back here right now. How gratifying is it for you?
CUDDYER: It feels good. It feels good to play and it feels good to still have a chance (at the playoffs).
DZ: You were just getting ready to come back from the finger injury and then the freak accident (broken foot) happened. What's going through your mind at that point?
CUDDYER: It was frustrating. I couldn't believe it happened. What happened this season is what life threw at me and you have to deal with it and preserve and get through it.
DZ: Does it remind you a little bit of '03 when you had the hamstring injury?
CUDDYER: Yeah. It is exactly what it is like. It was a tough year for me with the hamstring and missing about 80 games. This year was a lot like that.
DZ: Coming in with the new contract, you didn't want things to turn out like this - is there anything positive you can take out of it?
CUDDYER: We are still in contention, still trying to get into first place and still have a chance to get into the postseason. That's all you can ask for as a player is to get into the postseason and we have a chance to do that.
DZ: How about at a personal level, is there anything...
CUDDYER: (laughs) Uh...there were some positives...being able to come out here and help these young guys. This season obviously didn't live up to what I expected of it.
DZ: Unlike in '03, you are married, have a son - a family - does that help you keep things in perspective?
CUDDYER: Yeah. On a personal note this was a great year for me. My first little boy (Casey) was born - my first child. On a personal note this is one of the best years I've ever had. Professionally, it was a rough year.
DZ: So to sum it up, would you say that this experience will make you stronger for the future?
CUDDYER: Yeah, I think so. It makes you appreciate playing - having the opportunity to go out there and play the game. I love playing the game and having it taken away from me for that period of time - you realize how much you really do love it.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
September 25: Kevin Slowey
September 24: Jason Kubel
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