PHOENIX -- Since he broke in with the Twins in 2001, Michael Cuddyer has performed in numerous roles and several positions as a consummate team player.On Monday, Cuddyer enjoyed the fruits of a situation entirely new to him -- American League All-Star. When players like him move around so much to different spots for their team, it's often a challenge to be noticed as an accomplished individual. "Obviously it's a big deal, but I don't seek individual accolades or attention," Cuddyer said during Monday's All-Star media session. "But when you are recognized, it makes you feel good about yourself. For me, aside from winning or playing a World Series, this is it. This is what it's all about. I'm very excited to be here." The Twins normally send multiple All-Stars to the Midsummer Classic each year -- like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan. But Mauer and Morneau have been racked with injuries and Nathan is trying to get back to peak performances again after he missed all of 2010 because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Morneau saw his streak of four straight All-Star appearances snap, while Mauer's three-year streak also ended. It marked the first time since 2004 the Twins have only one All-Star.Cuddyer has been the Twins' most consistent performer this season, batting .298 with a .369 on-base percentage, a .474 slugging percentage and a team-high 13 home runs. He never held a grudge about not previously being acknowledged as an All-Star.
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"There were years I had good numbers, but I was also on a team with two MVPs and one of the best closers in the game," Cuddyer said. "By no means was I upset."Cuddyer has been nomadic throughout his career in Minnesota out of necessity. A shortstop when he was a first-round Draft pick in 1997, he committed 61 errors in his first pro season in Class A ball. The Twins had him try different positions around the infield and outfield as he worked his way up. Once he finally broke into the Majors, Cuddyer was a right fielder but filled in elsewhere. An injury to Corey Koskie meant a move to third base in 2004 for 43 games, while he also played 48 games at second base. He logged over 100 games in right field from 2006-09 for manager Ron Gardenhire, but last season, he played 84 games at first base for an injured Morneau. Cuddyer brought all of his gloves with him to Arizona because he wasn't sure where he'd see action. "When guys needed a break, whether it was [Doug] Mientkiewicz, Jacque Jones or Koskie, it got me in the lineup," Cuddyer said. "I kind of established myself in right field and then when I went back to moving to different positions, it allowed Gardy some flexibility. It's not a secret that we've had some injuries over the last three or four or five years." And those injuries this season have really rocked Minnesota, which has struggled more than the Twin Cities are used to after the past decade of success, going 41-48 in the first half to sit in fourth place and 6 1/2 games out in the AL Central. Cuddyer has been a major reason why the Twins have bounced back from a rough start, batting .349 with eight home runs, 11 doubles, 30 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 36 games since June 1. The 32-year-old helped his club rally from being 20 games under .500 and 16 1/2 games back on June 1.
"It's very exciting," Gardenhire said. "I'm happy for him. It's one of those situations where, as a manager, he's been here probably as long as I have, as far as managing goes, so I'm very happy for him. I would've been just as happy if it had been somebody else, but I think it adds a little something because of what Cuddy has done for this ballclub."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. MLB.com reporter Rhett Bollinger contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.