Five Twins looking for a rebound season in '16

Five Twins looking for a rebound season in '16

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins were a surprise team in 2015, winning 83 games en route to their first winning season since 2010. But not everything went right for Minnesota, as several veterans and youngsters had down years. In Part I of our Spring Training preview series, we take a look at Twins players on the rebound in '16, led by Joe Mauer, who was healthy in '15, but is looking to bounce back offensively.

1B Mauer: The Twins believe Mauer can be better offensively than he's shown the last two years after sustaining a concussion at the end of the '13 season. Mauer played in a career-high 158 games last season, but he hit .265/.338/.380 with 10 homers and 66 RBIs. It marked the first time in Mauer's career that he had an OPS below the league average. If Mauer can stay healthy and increase his production offensively, it would be a major boost for the Twins. He's under contract through 2018 and the Twins are crowded at the corner infield spots and designated hitter.

Mauer's solo homer

RHP Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco followed up a disappointing first season with the Twins in 2014 with an injury-plagued '15 season. The right-hander missed time with both elbow and ankle injuries, posting a 6.75 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Nolasco is owed $25 million over the next two years and will get a chance to make the rotation out of Spring Training. There's also a chance he could pitch in long relief if he doesn't crack the rotation.

C Kurt Suzuki: Suzuki was an All-Star in 2014, but struggled offensively in '15, hitting .240/.296/.314 with five homers and 50 RBIs in 131 games. He also threw out 14 of 94 attempting base stealers. The Twins acquired catcher John Ryan Murphy from the Yankees to help split the duties with Suzuki, who caught 119 games in '14 and 130 games in '15. The Twins feel a decrease in playing time could help the 32-year-old Suzuki stay productive.

Suzuki's RBI single

OF Oswaldo Arcia: The Twins had high hopes for Arcia in 2015 after he hit 20 homers in 103 games as a 23-year-old in '14. Instead, Arcia was injured early in the season and spent most of the year at Triple-A Rochester, as he played in 19 games with the Twins. Arcia is out of Minor League options this year, but he has a chance to make the club as an extra outfielder, as they don't want to risk losing him on waivers given his youth and power potential.

RHP Phil Hughes: Hughes was undoubtedly Minnesota's ace in 2014, when he broke Major League Baseball's single-season record for best strikeout-to-walk ratio. But he had trouble staying healthy in '15, and his ERA rose from 3.52 to 4.40. Hughes also tied for the American League lead by serving up 29 homers. Given his track record, Hughes should be able to bounce back in '15, but he has to prove he's healthy and show he hasn't lost his velocity from '14.

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