For the Minnesota Twins, 2012 Spring Training should be an exciting time.
Since 1991, the year of the Twins' last World Series title, Minnesota has been holding their Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida. Now that the championship dry spell has reached 20 years, it's time for the Twins to make a run at it again.
Here are four players to keep an eye on this spring in Minnesota's camp.
First, it will be crucial for Tsuyoshi Nishioka to be on top of his game this Spring. In 2011, Nishioka had his leg broken on a slide by Nick Swisher, so the utility infielder only got around a third of a season in. The Twins will look for Nishioka to provide stability in the middle of the infield this season, so how he performs in camp will be very exciting to watch.
Nishioka performed pretty poorly at the plate last season before he got injured. I'm hoping that this spring he can work some things out with his swing and be the force Minnesota brought him in to be.
Secondly, Ben Revere will be an interesting player to watch. He will probably be competing with Denard Span for the spot out in center field. When Span was injured for 70 games last year with a concussion, Revere brilliantly took over the position and will probably make a strong case to stay there this season.
During the 2011 season, Revere batted .267 with 30 RBI and 34 stolen bases and was an incredibly fun player to watch.
Thirdly, it will be exciting to watch Chris Parmelee, especially if Justin Morneau struggles to get over his concussion. Parmelee was incredible during his 21-game stint in the majors last season. He batted .355 and had four home runs in only 76 at-bats.
If Parmelee can continue his great work at the plate, I definitely see him making the team and helping the Twins out at the first base position when Morneau can't go.
Finally, keep an eye on newcomer Josh Willingham. His power seems to be increasing as he is getting on in years, but his batting average is decreasing. Willingham has had stints with the Athletics, Nationals and Marlins. His best year came in 2006, which was his first full year in the majors, with the Marlins.
The Twins must be hoping that he improves his .332 on-base percentage from last season if he is to make an impact in Minnesota this summer. It will be interesting to see how Spring Training goes for him.
This will be an exciting Spring in Fort Myers. The Twins have a good mix of veterans and youth. I am both expectant and wary of getting my hopes too high. However, if these four individuals perform well during camp, the Twins have a lot to look forward to in 2012.
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