Notes: Kubel's knee tested

Notes: Kubel's knee tested

MINNEAPOLIS -- Testing his newly brace-free knee at TwinsFest was the last thing that Jason Kubel had planned on doing.

Just weeks after getting clearance to practice freely without the constraint of the brace, though, Kubel did just that as he took a little tumble off the stage at the annual event. And as luck would have it, Kubel landed squarely on the rehabilitated knee.

"I was trying to walk around [Rob] Bowen on the stage, and ended up taking a fall right onto my bad knee," Kubel said. "It was a bit of a scare, but once I knew it was all right, I was able to breathe easy."

Kubel may not have intended to see if the knee could stand up to a test like that, but it was certainly a relief that he didn't feel any pain after the fall. In fact, it might almost be a good omen for what is to come.

"Not exactly the time I wanted to test it, but I guess that's a good sign for Spring Training," Kubel said with a chuckle. "It looks like I'm all ready to go now."

Kubel missed the entire 2005 season after tearing all three ligaments -- the anterior, posterior and cruciate -- in his left knee. Extensive rehabilitation has followed, and up until a few weeks ago, Kubel could only practice with a brace on the knee. Now, he has full clearance to practice with no restrictions.

Since being cleared, Kubel has been able to work out in a normal routine. He's running, lifting and throwing in the same workouts that he did before the injury. The 23-year-old has not had any setbacks or problems with the knee to this point.

"No problems at all to report," Kubel said with a smile. "It hasn't been sore in a long time."

With the loss of Jacque Jones to the Cubs, the Twins have an opening in right field. Kubel is expected to compete for the spot along with Lew Ford and Michael Cuddyer.

The organization was very high on Kubel before his injury, even calling him up before Aug. 31, 2004, so that he would be eligible for the postseason roster. That year, the outfielder saw action in 23 games at the Major League level, and in 60 at-bats, he hit .300 with two home runs and seven RBIs. His numbers were equally impressive in Triple-A, where he hit .358 with 77 RBIs in 100 games. He was also named the Minor League player of the year that same season.

"This kid has a lot of talent and brings a strong bat," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It will be interesting to see how he does in Spring Training and how his knee will take to the wear and tear of playing in the outfield."

Kubel knows that it won't be easy to try to jump right back into things after missing a full year of playing time, but he is happy to have the chance to earn a spot, and he knows that all is not lost if he doesn't gain the starting outfield spot right away.

"I would love to start up there -- that's what I want," Kubel said. "If I don't get it, I just need to keep working to get up there. But it feels good to know that there is a shot right now. I know I missed a whole year, but to have the chance to compete for a spot on the roster is all I can ask for."

Throwing on hold: During the offseason, right-handed pitcher Juan Rincon underwent surgery on his throwing elbow to remove some bone chips that had gathered.

Rincon has yet to start throwing with the newly cleaned out elbow, but he expects to begin once he arrives in Florida for Spring Training.

"I'm planning on getting to Fort Myers around the 13th of February," Rincon said. "I'm going to go a few days early and start getting in some extra work. Then I should be able to start throwing again."

Despite not being able to throw the ball since the surgery, Rincon has said that his rehabilitation has gone well. He has been able to work out and gain strength in the arm with no pain.

"I haven't had any setbacks," Rincon said. "Once we get started, I will be ready to go."

Searching for a replacement? Twins assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky is in the running for the Cincinnati Reds general manager job.

Last week, the Twins granted permission for the team to talk with Krivsky. Twins general manager Terry Ryan announced at a media luncheon for the club on Friday afternoon that Krivsky is scheduled to interview with the Reds again next Tuesday.

"If he gets the job, it will be a tremendous loss for the organization," Ryan said. "But Wayne is definitely someone who deserves the job, and he would be a great catch for any team."

Voice of the fans: The start of TwinsFest also marked the beginning of the fans' chance to vote for who will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2006.

An online ballot for fans is available at Fans can vote for up to five candidates. To be elected, a candidate must get a total of 42 votes from the 56-member committee. The total of the fan votes will count as one member of the committee.

If more than one candidate receives 42 votes (75 percent), the top vote-getting candidate will be selected. Two members may be selected if one receives more than 90 percent of the votes.

Online voting will end on Feb. 17.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.