If there's an upside to Shannon Stewart being injured (I mean, other than getting his defense out of LF), it's that Jason Kubel is finally getting a chance to play everyday out there, and his bat is starting to come around.
Kubel, if you'll remember, was pretty much God in AAA a couple years ago, but then blew out his knee and missed all of last year. So ABs are obviously important at this point, and when he wasn't getting consistent ABs earlier this year, he predictably was not hitting all that well. However, now that he's playing everyday, he's picking it up. Case in point:
6/10: 3/5, 1 2B
6/6: 3/5, 1 HR
Not great numbers, but not too bad for a guy just getting his first consistent playing time in the MLB. As an example of the little work he's gotten, his batting average raises 70 points a week.
But beyond the numbers, as Seth points out, he just looks more comfortable at the plate. He's having better AB, being more patient, and it's starting to show up in the numbers.
As of now, his line isn't terribly impressive at this point - .306 OBP/.397 SLG, but things are starting to come around. In his last 7 games he's batting .400 and slugging .560. If he sticks around all year, I honestly think he has a decent chance to hit .300. He's just a good overall hitter.
So why do I have the sinking feeling that once Stewart gets off the DL they'll start him and either relegate Kubel to the bench or to AAA? Becuase these are the Twins, and Ron Gardenhire still manages the club. But watching Kubel mature over the past few weeks gives me more confidence for the future - With Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Cuddyer all in the lineup and only one of them arguably in their prime (Cuddyer), the Twins offense has a chance to be real solid over the next few years. Hopefully they just get the time to develop.
Also, special congrats to Aaron Gleeman, who's approaching (or may have passed by the time you read this) the 2,000,000 visitor mark. In my opinion, Aaron's the premier Twins blogger out in the blogosphere - heck, maybe the premier Twins writer anywhere. So anyway, if you happen to read this Aaron, congratulations, and keep up the fantastic and entertaining work.