Notes: White slips into camp early

Notes: White slips into camp early

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Quietly going about his business of working on his swing in the batting cages below Hammond Stadium, Rondell White almost slipped completely under the radar of Twins fans standing nearby watching the pitchers and catchers work out.

Under the dark shade of the cages it was difficult to tell right away it was White, indeed, hitting the ball off the tee -- that is until he flashed the trademark bright smile.

The smile was all it took for fans to gather around the first of the club's new acquisitions to arrive at camp. The Twins' new designated hitter arrived in Fort Myers on Monday night around 11 p.m., after an eight-hour drive from his home near Macon, Ga.

It was a quiet entrance for White, who came to the field after all the players and even managed to slip by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Though he hadn't seen White quite yet, it didn't surprise the skipper to hear of his early arrival.

"You expect that," Gardenhire said. "He's been in this game a long time. He'll do what he has to do to get ready."

Though he had to adjust to a new setting for Spring Training and new teammates, this isn't the first time in White's career that he has arrived a few days early. In fact, the veteran has made a habit of arriving early to Spring Training throughout his career. Knowing that it takes some time to adjust to hitting, White said he prefers to make sure he is ready for the first day of batting practice.

But even White was unprepared to hear that the Twins' games begin only five days after the club's first full-squad workout. Nothing like getting started early, right?

"Wow, the fastball is going to look like 100 mph," White said with a laugh.

The jovial nature of White seems to have a lot to do with how good he is feeling physically these days. After taking a few swings off the tee in the cages on Tuesday morning, White said his shoulder was feeling just fine. He underwent surgery on his left shoulder last August. Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds, performed the surgery to repair tears in the rotator cuff, labrum and capsule that occurred when White was playing for the Tigers and made a diving catch in the outfield.

With such an extensive surgery, rehabilitation became an everyday habit in the offseason for White. Dr. Kremchek told the 34-year-old to go at least five days a week to stretch the shoulder and keep it loose. The intense rehab worked well for the player who is so happy to be able to hit without pain.

"It's a blessing considering how I tore it up," White said. "Dr. Kremchek did a great job on the surgery. Now I can just focus on keeping it healthy by just being a DH and swinging ... no sliding for me."

Missing in action: Things have gone smoothly for the Twins during the first two days of camp, except for one missing piece.

As of Tuesday afternoon, pitcher Jose Mijares had yet to report to camp. He is the only one of the 33 Twins pitchers and catchers invited to take part in the Major League Spring Training that has yet to arrive.

Mijares, a 21-year-old left-hander, spent most of last season with Class A Beloit, going 6-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 20 appearances before being promoted to Class A Fort Myers. He had a 1.50 ERA and no decisions in five games with the Miracle.

Exactly where Mijares is and why he hasn't reported yet is still unknown to the Twins.

"We are in the process of tracking him down to find out what's going on," Gardenhire said. "We don't know when he'll be in."

A man of many trades: The sight of one lone glove atop Michael Cuddyer's locker couldn't be a better indicator of where the player's attention is this season.

"Right field is my focus," Cuddyer said. "That's where I'll play the majority, if not the whole time, at Spring Training and hopefully the season. That's pretty much my mindset right now, and really I think everybody's mindset going in."

That isn't to say that the man who has become the Twins all-purpose player is abandoning all ties to the infield. Though the other gloves aren't visible right away, Cuddyer made sure not to leave them at home just yet.

"They are all here," Cuddyer said with a smile. "The only difference is that the rest of them are all in the bottom of my locker this year instead of all up top."

Taking notice: Outfielder Jason Kubel seems to be the one player gathering the most attention during batting practice, and it's not just from the fans eager to see how the Twins prospect is doing.

Many of the Twins coaches have taken the time to watch Kubel swing a bit and were pleased by what they have seen from him during the informal hitting sessions.

"I've already got my coaches going, 'Oh my goodness, you should see him swinging,'" Gardenhire said. "I'm going, 'Easy guys, it's been like a couple days of spring.'"

The main reason Gardenhire remains cautious likely has to do with concerns about how Kubel's knee will respond to the outfield.

"He's going to run around in the outfield and see if his knee swells up," Gardenhire said. "So we're guarded. I'm just in a wait-and-see to see how he does."

Hello neighbor? A story ran in Tuesday's Fort Myers News-Press that confirmed that the Cleveland Indians have been looking at possibly moving their Spring Training complex to nearby Cape Coral.

Team officials told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that talks were in the "very, very preliminary" stages. Even if a deal were to be completed soon, the club likely wouldn't move to the area until at least 2008.

Having another team close to Fort Myers would cut down on the travel time for the Twins, but for Gardenhire the concept isn't necessarily all good for his club.

"That would be a little hard, having a team in your own division, playing them 19 times," Gardenhire said. "But that's a business decision for them to make. It definitely makes less travel for us, but we'd be playing a team in our division."

Twins tidbits: The Top 50 Prospects list by Baseball Prospectus was released Monday, and Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano was ranked No. 4 on the list. ... Kent Hrbek visited with fans at Tuesday's workout while filming some video for his weekly outdoors show.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.