MASON CITY - Ron Gardenhire says the Minnesota Twins are on a mission.
The manager of the Twins wants to erase the memories of the 2011 season that saw his team compile a record of 63-99.
"We took a beating and got slapped around," Gardenhire told the crowd at Diamond Vogel this morning in Mason City. "We're ready to get back to show you that we can play some baseball.
"It starts with health. If we keep our guys healthy, we feel we can compete with anybody."
Gardenhire made the stop along with former Twins great Kent Hrbek and new Twins radio play-by-play announcer Cory Provus, who takes over for long-time announcer John Gordon.
Gardenhire, who took over the Twins in 2002, said two of the more important Twins that need to be healthy this season are former MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
"That's two MVPs with batting titles," said Gardenhire, who was the 2010 American League manager of the year. "Those are your all-stars.
"You take the three and four hitter out of anybody's lineup and it makes for some trouble. Hopefully, we'll have them out there."
Mauer, who played 82 games last year, hit .287 with three home runs and 30 RBIs. Morneau, who played in 69 games, hit .227 with four home runs and 30 RBIs.
Gardenhire said Mauer, who battled injuries and illnesses a year ago, still wants to be the Twins' every-day catcher.
The Twins' manager said Morneau, who dealt with symptoms from a concussion suffered in the 2010 season, plans on being the team's regular first baseman.
"We have to keep them on the field," Gardenhire said. "If it's catching, if it's DHing - whatever we have do do. Those two young men need to be in our lineup for us to be successful.
"The preference is one to catch and one to play first base. If it goes like it did last year and looks like it's not going to work, we're going to make an adjustment and put them places where we can keep them on the field."
Gardenhire said the Twins' starting pitchers are also all starting spring training healthy.
"(Jason) Marquis is going to be a good one for us," Gardenhire said. "He's another veteran guy that knows how to pitch. He'll be another veteran guy like (Carl) Pavano.
"(Francisco) Liriano is throwing great down in the Dominican. He just threw a 2-0 shutout (Sunday) night. So he's really winging it. He's huge. If we can get him going, he can be the ace of your staff. We've all seen the inconsistencies. Now, we just have to get him consistent."
- For more on the Twins stop in Mason City Monday, read Wednesday's Globe Gazette.