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Not a lot has gone right for the Twins in 2012, their supposed ace has been banished to the bullpen, their No. 2 starter is out for the season and their promising third baseman has regressed so much he was sent to Triple A. The storm clouds that have been hanging over the Twin Cities for most of the past week might as well park themselves over Target Field.
One positive the team and its fans can cling to however is the play of Josh Willingham. After stops in Florida, Washington and Oakland, the 33-year-old outfielder inked a 3-year, $21 million contract with the Twins last December. He’s been a bargain so far, hitting .274/.394/.548 with 8 homeruns, 14 doubles and 27 RBI in 42 games.
The straightforward slugger and I talked as he prepared for Friday’s game against the Tigers.
DZ: You are coming up on two months with the Twins now, how are you feeling, how are things going for you?
WILLINGHAM: Going good, I can’t complain. Obviously we’d have liked to get out to a better start, but everybody has been playing a little better lately.
DZ: Personally you got off to a really good start, how much pressure does that take off of you when you are joining a new team?
WILLINGHAM: You always want to get off to a good start, it doesn’t matter if you are with a new team or a team you’ve been with for three years, you always want to get off to a good start. That was nice, I am settling in now and hopefully I just stay consistent.
DZ: You started the season of a 15-game hitting streak, when you are on a streak like that, do you have any superstitions?
WILLINGHAM: Not really, you are seeing the ball pretty good and you just kinda go with it. I was getting some hits and hitting some balls that were finding some holes, it was nice.
DZ: Going back to the offseason when you were a free agent, why did you decide to come to the Twins?
WILLINGHAM: The whole package. When you become a free agent you look at the whole scenario. Obviously that’s your chance to maximize your finances, take care of your family. I was looking for a 3-year deal, they were one of three teams that offered me that. I just kind of went with their past history of winning and talked to a lot of players that have been with the Twins and that was ultimately the reason I signed with them - all of those things.
DZ: Did the park scare you off at all - it’s known as a pitcher’s park?
WILLINGHAM: Not really, I’ve sorta played in big parks my whole career.
DZ: How does this compare to hitting in Oakland?
WILLINGHAM: I would say it’s similar. It’s bigger than Oakland, but they both play about the same.
DZ: You mentioned the 3-year contract, this being your third team in four years, how important was it to get that stability?
WILLINGHAM: That’s why you go to free agency, that’s your time to maximize your years and money and that’s what I was trying to do. At the same I went to an organization where I thought we were going to be comfortable and have a chance to win.
DZ: In your personal life, you’ve had a baby this year, moved to a new place. Have you gotten settled into the community?
WILLINGHAM: Yeah, we live out in Chanhassen. We’ve got a nice place, the wife is happy, the family is great, so everything is good.
DZ: How difficult is it for a family when you move around that much?
WILLINGHAM: It’s hard, but you only have to do it for a few years. It’s not like I am going to be playing when I am 45, so you just kind of go and do what you have to do. You’ll have plenty of time to be at home or whatever when you are done.
DZ: One of the first things you notice when you are batting is your forearms - how big they are - is that something that is natural or do you do special exercises?
WILLINGHAM: No, not really. God blessed me with big forearms I guess.
See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players: