"I don't think anybody would have been shocked if he left (as a free agent last winter)", minor league director Jim Rantz said. "We wanted him back, but we've got an MVP (Justin Morneau) ahead of him. You can't blame a guy in that circumstance for looking for another opportunity."
Peterson didn't have to look for opportunities last winter—they came looking for him. But after considering three offers to switch organizations, all of them for more money (though none guaranteed), Peterson made a decision the Twins didn't expect: He came back.
"I thought, 'What if I start slow, like I do most years?' They know me here. They know I'll come around," Peterson said, pointing to his 2009 campaign for Triple-A Rochester, when he batted .159 with one home run before June 1, and .341 with nine homers afterward
"Nobody is just going to hand a guy like me a roster spot," he said. "This is my baseball family, so I couldn't see a reason to leave."
Minnesota drafted and signed the righthanded hitter in the 49th round of the 2002 draft out of Chehalis (Wash.) High. While at 26, he's nobody's idea of a top prospect, Peterson has adapted at every level.
He's an average fielder at best, but "he's a battler, a guy who fights you every at-bat," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I wouldn't be afraid to use him."
He might get the chance. The Twins didn't keep Brian Buscher, Joe Crede or Justin Huber, all of whom were potential backups to Morneau. The Twins stationed Peterson with Rochester for a second season, but he hopes to make his big league debut sometime this year.
"Situations change, and if I'm doing my job, it should work out," Peterson said. "I'm a firm believer that I was meant to play for this team."
• Rochester righthander Anthony Swarzak was hit on the right foot by a line drive in an April 13 game and will miss at least a month. He went 3-7, 6.25 in 12 starts for the Twins last year.
• Low Class A Beloit outfielder Aaron Hicks, the organization's top prospect, opened the season in a 1-for-31 (.032) funk before hitting a solo home run on April 17.