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Cudd-iary: Welcome to New York
10/04/2004 2:30 PM ET
With the Twins since 2002, Michael Cuddyer has been part of the past three AL Central championship teams and is about to begin his third year of postseason play.

A role player in both the infield and outfield for Minnesota this season, Cuddyer learned Monday he would start Tuesday's Game 1 at second base in place of an injured Luis Rivas.

As he did during the regular season, Cuddyer is back with another edition of his exclusive diary for

NEW YORK -- The epitome of playoff baseball is playing at Yankee Stadium.

One thing we have going for us is we were here last year for the playoffs. The awe is gone. We know we have business to take care of. We know we have to come in here and take at least one -- if not both -- games and then come back home.

We have to feel good about our pitching staff. We have to feel good about Johan Santana and Brad Radke throwing in Game 1 and Game 2, although we have to come in and play. It makes us feel pretty comfortable to have a potential Cy Young Award winner starting Game 1.

We felt comfortable about our position, no matter where we played or who we played. The main goal was getting healthy. It doesn't matter who you play or where, if you're not healthy or rested -- it doesn't matter. We made sure everybody was healthy. Torii Hunter was banged up much of the year. Shannon Stewart had nagging injuries, plus Luis Rivas and Corey Koskie. Everybody plays so hard on this team, you're going to be banged up through the course of 162 games. The playoffs are when you need everybody healthy and rested. Winning home-field advantage was the goal, but at the same time we wanted everyone healthy.

Ron Gardenhire took some unfair criticism. He had to come in every day and there were times we didn't have a lineup until an hour or 45 minutes before the game because he wanted to see who was able to play. If guys came in and felt sore, he wasn't going to jeopardize their being able to play in the playoffs.

Starting at second base is a little different. But I've been in this situation before, granted it was in right field, and granted it was in Oakland (for the 2002 ALDS). Then it was my first time in the big leagues. But I played all of September, just like this year. I've been swinging the bat well and now they're putting me out there. It's exciting. It's a lot of fun. Last year, I started Game 4 against the Yankees as the designated hitter. It's nothing new. I'm just going to play the game.

At second base, compared to right field at Yankee Stadium, you don't get to hear as much of the heckling and criticism. It's a little easier to tone it all out. It's no different than Oakland, which might be the worst place for that kind of environment. It's fun playing here. People know their baseball. They know what's going on. They follow the game. Usually, the criticism is fair.

Our motto, the past couple of years, has been to win every series. Whether it's the regular season or the postseason, that's the motto. There are no exceptions. Instead of a three-game series, it's a five game series. We still have to go out there and win it. We'll take every series individually so we're not putting too much emphasis on one game. We have to go out and win a five-game series.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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