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Red-hot Willingham hits everywhere, pitchers parks or not

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
This time, new Twins outfielder Josh Willingham delivered the big hit in Tropicana Field.

In extending his hitting streak to a sizzling 14 games, Willingham pounded a bases-loaded, three-run double against Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta to lift Minnesota past Tampa Bay 5-4 on Friday.

Before that? Yankee Stadium, Target Field, Camden Yards. ...

Willingham is off to one of the hottest starts in the game. He's got 12 RBI in 14 games, he's hitting .333 and three doubles and five home runs.

The Twins hated to part ways with Michael Cuddyer last winter, but did so when the bidding for his free agent services went beyond what they wanted to pay. The Rockies wound up signing Cuddyer for $27 million over three years.

The Twins got Willingham for three years and $21 million, and he's hitting everywhere.

Perhaps most importantly, he's shown absolutely no intimidation at Target Field, which has given Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau fits in the past. In his new home, Willingham is hitting .455 with three homers and four RBI in six games. In Minnesota, Willingham has a 1.448 OPS.

His old manager in 2011 with the Athletics, Bob Melvin, is watching from afar and is not surprised.

"He doesn't worry about anything," Melvin says. "He's not a worry-about-the-ballpark guy. You saw the home runs he hit at our place.

"He's not one of those guys who hits one and if it doesn't go out gets frustrated."

His 14-game hitting streak set a Twins record for the start of a season.

Likes: Spectactular show at Fenway Park's 100th birthday celebration Friday. Well, all except the Red Sox baseball part of it. ... Very cool to see Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and all the other legends. ... Old outfielder and current Padres first base coach Dave Roberts saying he feels better than he ever has after shaking Hodgkins' lymphoma. ... How about the Nationals' pitching? ... Juan Pierre still plugging away atop the Phillies' order. Nobody works harder, or is more genuine, than Pierre. ... Enjoying Dan Ewald's new book Sparky and Me about, you guessed it, Sparky Anderson. Well, it's more than that -- Ewald was the longtime Tigers publicity director and the book is about the friendship he and Sparky forged. ... Bonnie Raitt's Slipstream. ... Looking forward to seeing the new documentary on reggae king Bob Marley.

Dislikes: Jay Lucas losing his job as a senior vice-president of communications with the Astros. Actually, the job was "eliminated" in the new Astros' alignment. Jay is one of the best in the business. It's Houston's loss, without question.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I'm walking through the summer nights
"Jukebox playing low
"Yesterday everything was going too fast
"Today, it`s moving too slow
"I got no place left to turn
"I got nothing left to burn"

-- Bob Dylan, Standing in the Doorway


 
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