Recent Events Give More Opportunities For Players to Step Up

Hello Twins fans and I’m back from Fort Myers where I went to one spring training game. I also listened to a lot of basketball action and went for walks on the beach. Withrecent events that have taken place in the Twins camp I think it’s time to revisit the roster picture.

First of all, Tsuyoshi Nishioka was sent to the minor league camp early last week. Although he’d been doing ok at the plate this spring (.240 average, 1 RbI and 1 tripple in 25 at bats), he was like a sieve in the infield. Nishioka was projected to be on the roster as a utility infielder, but now that roster spot is open. Who gets that roster spot could be based upon some other factors that I’ll go over.

One of the factors would have to be what role Justin Morneau plays on the team. There’s talk now that he might be the DH with a revolving door at first base consisting of Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit and Luke Hughes. There’s also the possibility that Chris Parmelee could potensially be in the mix for the first base position. Parmelee this spring has been given plenty at bats (42) with a batting line of .286/.362/.571 with 3 HR and 8 RBI with 10 runs scored.

Parmelee however has only played as high as Class AA in the minors, but does have a little major league experience since he played last September with the Twins. The Twins front office has said that they’re not afraid to promote someone from AA level.

Another factor that could determine who fills Nishioka’s spot on the Twins roster is the fact that manager Ron Gardenhire has announced that Josh Willingham will move to his more natural position which is left field. Willingham was projected as the Twins starting right fielder, but it was apparent that Willingham is better suited for left field.

With Willingham now in left, this means that right field is open. Initially, it was projected that the starting outfield would be a platoon of Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe in left, Denard Span in center and Willingham in right.

So, who will play in right field?

I know one thing. The starting everyday right fielder will not be revere. He doesn’t have a strong throwing arm and you want your right fielder to have a strong arm. Plus the fact that Revere has been playing all over the outfield suggests that he might be considered as the fourth outfielder. This would also add some more speed on the bench which the Twins could use late in games for pinch running purposes.

As for Trevor Plouffe, he’s been slowed recently by a sore hamString. This spring Plouffe is batting .276/.344/.310 with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. The fact that he has no options makes it likely that Plouffe will be on the Twins to start the season barring any injury.

And, I’ve not mentioned that Parmelee started today’s game in right field. I think the fact Parmelee has had a solid spring has made him a possible candidate to start the season with the club.

There’s one other option I’ve not discussed. Joe Benson is one of the Twins most prized prospects in the higher minors. Like Parmelee, he too has only played as high as AA. Also like Parmelee, Benson has played in the Majors last fall.

This spring, Benson has batted .250/.311/.425 with 2 HR and 10 RBI with 4 runs scored. I think that Benson also has a shot at making the club perhaps as the starting center fielder and Denard Span moving to right.

A couple of other possible players that might have a shot at making the club are Sean Burroughs and Mike Hollimon. Both have had solid springs at the plate. Hollimon is leading the Twins in batting average at .474 in 19 at bats with 1 HR and 5 RBI. Burroghs has a .290 average with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Also, both have had major league experience. I think Burroughs has a better shot at making the club than Hollimon since the Twins have given him more at bats, but I think these players are not as high on the list of potensial players to fill Nishioka’s open roster spot.

And of course I’ve not mentioned Brian Dozier. Well, the only way he will make the club is if he has an opportunity to play shortstop every day. Right now, Jamey Carroll is the everyday shortstop.

Who fills the open roster spot depends on how well the players do the rest of spring training. Also, the role morneau plays on this club will determine if they might want someone to be able to play first base.

I actually think that Morneau will be playing the majority of games at first since I’ve not heard of any reason he can’t play there. The only thing is he’s not done well at the plate, but the signs are there that he’s coming around as far as hitting goes.

In the end, it’s more opportunities. Opportunities for players to step up and make a good impression.

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