Notes: Twins confident in Kubel

Twins notes: High on Kubel

ANAHEIM -- The Twins have liked everything they've seen about Jason Kubel, with the exception of the devastating knee injury at the end of the 2004 season. With Kubel back on the field and seemingly recovered, manager Ron Gardenhire is confident the outfielder remains something special. Now if they can only convince Kubel of the same thing.

"He had a serious injury and was out a long time. This is a hard time for him right now," Gardenhire said.

"It seems like he's trying to prove something to everybody while we don't necessarily want him to prove anything. We just want him to relax and get some at-bats. We know what he can do."

Of course, telling a young player to just relax and not worry is easier said than done.

According to Gardenhire, "He thinks he has to get it done or he's out of here, and that's one of the issues with younger players."

Starting the season with the big club, Kubel went 3-for-16 and it was decided that he needed to get his timing back in the Minors. In 30 games with Triple-A Rochester, Kubel hit .283 with four home runs and 22 RBIs, and even stole a couple of bases. Evidently, the stroke is back, just not the self-confidence. The plan, while left fielder Shannon Stewart is on the disabled list, is to help him regain that confidence.

"He's one of those guys who we think is going to be pretty big in the future and we just want him to relax and not feel he's under the gun," reiterated Gardenhire.

As for when and where he gets those at-bats, there isn't any real plan.

"He's in a semi-platoon with Lew [Ford]," Gardenhire said, "but I'm really just going by feel as to where and when I should get him in."

On Monday night, for instance, Kubel led off for the first time in his Major League career, but not because the Twins are thinking of him as a leadoff-type hitter.

"You don't know if someone can do it or not until you try it, so I figured I might as well get him four at-bats swinging from the leadoff spot," Gardenhire said.

According to all reports, Kubel has a quick bat and hitter's hands, but as for what Gardenhire is looking for during Kubel's stay with the Twins is simple.

"They say when he's hitting well, the ball makes a different sound coming off his bat," the manager said. "We'd like to hear more of that."

Listen carefully, and you just might hear the future of the Minnesota Twins.

Stewart not ready yet: Though he's eligible to come off the disabled on Sunday, Stewart doesn't expect to be ready.

"It's a weird thing, it's getting better, but I still really can't do much," Stewart said of his left heel injury (partial tear of his left plantar fascia).

Said Gardenhire: "It's going to be a little longer than the doctors anticipated and he definitely has a tear."

Stewart himself is being very cautious about trying to come back to soon.

"They say the only thing that will heal it is rest," he said. "I haven't even done any running on it."

Whether that rest means a few additional days or weeks, Stewart doesn't really know and nobody is predicting. The main thing is to get him well for the rest of the season, not just few a few games.

"I don't want to come back too soon and then have to go through this all again," he said. "Better to wait until I'm sure."

White's getting in the groove: While the numbers might not show it, Rondell White is beginning to swing the bat much better. Now if only the balls will start to fall in.

"I'm feeling better, swinging better, seeing the ball better, so I'm feeling good," White said.

Gardenhire has seen the change, too: "I try not to look at numbers, but I know that for the last few weeks he's been hitting the ball hard, just at people."

In fact, White has hit safely in four of the last five games entering Monday, going 5-for-15, and he started May with an 11-game hitting-streak, hitting over .300.

"We know what Rondell can do, so we're not overly concerned. We just need to get him going," Gardenhire said.

"Of course, he's not the only one that we need to get going."

Down on the farm: Justin Jones made his first start for the Class A Fort Meyers on Sunday, throwing seven shutout innings in an 8-0 win. Jones has given up one run in 13 1/3 innings, while striking out six.

On deck: The Twins send Scott Baker to the mound on Tuesday night, to face the Angels' Jeff Weaver, and then conclude the three-game series on Wednesday when Francisco Liriano faces off against Ervin Santana. Both games are at 9:05 p.m. CT.

Glenn Rabney is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.