Minnesota Twins: Ben Revere, Alexi Casilla and the Return of the Piranhas

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Minnesota Twins: Ben Revere, Alexi Casilla and the Return of the Piranhas
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
Revere attempts to steal a base against the Kansas City Royals

Throughout the last decade of Twins baseball, the Twins have had a true team identifier: that of the piranhas.

The nickname came from Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen during the 2006 season, when Ron Gardenhire featured a lineup with essentially four leadoff hitters: Jason Bartlett, Nick Punto, Jason Tyner and Luis Castillo.

According to Wikipedia, Guillen said, "All those piranhas—blooper here, blooper here, beat out a ground ball, hit a home run, they're up by four. They get up by four with that bullpen? See you at the national anthem tomorrow. When I sit down and look at the lineup, give me the New York Yankees. Give me those guys because they've got holes. You can pitch around them, you can pitch to them.

"These little guys? Castillo and all of them? People worry about the catcher, what's his name, [Joe] Mauer? Fine, yeah, a good hitter, but worry about the little [guys], they're on base all the time."

The piranhas helped lead the Twins to a come-from-behind division title in 2006 and yet another in 2009.

In 2010 the Twins lost this identity, opting for players like Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy, Jim Thome and Danny Valencia over Carlos Gomez, Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla.

The Twins, out of necessity following injuries to a majority of their Opening Day starting lineup, have given opportunities to a new set of piranhas, who have helped the Twins win 10 of their last 12 contests and possibly salvage a season that looked lost two weeks prior.

The original Piranhas in 2006 were fan favorites

Ben Revere has given the Twins their new identity during this time, and Alexi Casilla has turned around his career batting behind Revere. These two have been getting on base and wreaking havoc once they get there.

The threat of the stolen base can only help and should continue to increase with the return of Tsuyoshi Nishioka on Thursday.

"When we get all of our backups back I still want that edge of putting the pressure on them and not waiting for the three-run homer and everybody being a part of it," Gardenhire said, according to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. "I've got to make sure that we get that. Of course there's going to be guys that you just let them hit and all that stuff. But I really like to be able to put things on, steal. I like to be able to hit-and-run. It's so much fun. And I don't want to lose that edge." 

* The Twins currently sit nine games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers.

* Joe Mauer is set to return to the Twins lineup for the first of three games at Target Field vs. the San Diego Padres for the resumption of 2011 interleague play.

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