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Happy in Minnesota, Willingham open to extension

Happy in Minnesota, Willingham open to extension

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Josh Willingham is entering the final season of a three-year contract with the Twins, but if it were up to him, he'd like to stay a bit longer.

Willingham, who arrived at Twins camp Wednesday ahead of Friday's official report date, said he'd like to remain in Minnesota past his current contract.

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"I do love playing in Minnesota," Willingham said. "From the organization, to the weather, to my friends and teammates, I think all that stuff is a plus to me. So yeah, I'd love to stay here another year or so."

Willingham, who is making $7 million this year, said he has not reached out to the Twins about a contract extension, but would be receptive if the club approached him.

"If they wanted to come to me, it'd be something I'd obviously be up for," Willingham said. " It's a great organization and I love playing in Minnesota."

But Willingham, who turned 35 on Monday, has to prove he can stay healthy this year, as he dealt with a left knee injury in 2013 and hit just .208/.342/.368 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs in 111 games. He hit .260/.366/.524 with 35 homers and 110 RBIs in '12.

Willingham said he went through his normal offseason routine and hasn't dealt with any knee problems since undergoing arthroscopic surgery in July. He said he also hopes to remain in left field this year, but is fine with serving as designated hitter here and there to get a break from the outfield.

"I like playing left field, because you're more in the flow of the game, while at DH, you have more down time," Willingham said. "So I'd rather be in the game. But DH-ing is great when you're hitting well."

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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