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Veterans Kubel, Bartlett back at TwinsFest

Slugger, shortstop signed Minor League deals in offseason to return to Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- A pair of familiar faces were back at TwinsFest this weekend, as Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett made their returns to the annual event after re-joining the Twins on Minor League deals this offseason.

Kubel, who played seven seasons with the Twins before departing for the D-backs via free agency in 2012, signed a Minor League deal with Minnesota in mid-December. And Bartlett, who played in Minnesota for four years from 2004-07, before being traded to the Rays in the Delmon Young swap, signed a Minor League deal with the Twins in November.

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Kubel, 31, has a strong chance to make the team as a designated hitter and corner outfielder as long as he stays healthy, as he dealt with leg injuries in 2013 that limited him to just a .216 average and five homers in 97 games, after he hit .253 with 30 homers in 141 games in '12.

"I came in here at the end of last year [while with the Indians] and talked to everyone here and I just missed them," Kubel said. "I told them that I would like to come back, and they said the same. So I was excited in the offseason to be able to talk to them about that."

Kubel also joked that he didn't know about 85 percent of the faces at TwinsFest because of the turnover the club has experienced in recent years. But he knows Bartlett, as they played together in the Minors before both making their Twins debuts in '04.

Bartlett, though, is considered less likely to make the club than Kubel because he didn't play at all in 2013, and played in just 29 games with the Padres in '12, because of a sprained right knee that required surgery.

But Bartlett, 34, said he's been working out all offseason in hopes of making the club, and has been told that he's being brought in as competition at shortstop for Pedro Florimon.

"I'm going in trying to start," Bartlett said. "If I come out of camp as a utility, so be it. But I feel good."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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