Mackey: Trevor Plouffe keeps pushing forward
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Plouffe has a band.
Well, sort of.
Plouffe and Triple-A outfielder Dustin Martin both play guitar, Triple-A infielder Toby Gardenhire sings, and catcher Drew Butera is the manager. Sometimes he plays bongos.
They call themselves "The Beach Bums," named after the beach-themed basement the four men had while living together in New Britain two seasons ago.
"We decorated our basement because it was so scary," Plouffe said. "Me and Drew went to the dollar store and bought fake palm trees, and all this island-themed stuff so we weren't scared to sleep. That's where we always jammed (in the basement), so that's how we got our name."
The band has yet to play any official gigs. They're still in the basement-jamming phase. Not to mention, Gardenhire and Martin remain at Class-AAA Rochester, while Butera and Plouffe attempt to continue living life in the big leagues.
For now, however, Plouffe will probably have to put his music "career" on hold. He has baseball business to take care of, and in fact, he had a chance to be a hero on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Twins trailed the Brewers 4-3, and Plouffe stepped up to the plate to face hard-throwing rookie right-hander John Axford.
The 23-year-old shortstop quickly fell behind 0-2, then eventually swung and missed at a breaking ball in the dirt to end the game. In the clubhouse afterward, Plouffe tipped his cap and gave credit to Axford for throwing some nasty pitches.
"I was ready for it, I wanted it yesterday when I got pinch hit for," Plouffe said about the nail-biting situation.
"I was calm, but I did feel a little jumpy at the plate, which isn't necessarily how you want to be. Hopefully next time I get in that position I'll be even more calm and more relaxed, and it'll be a different outcome."
Plouffe made his Major League debut on Friday night, tallying two hits and two RBIs in a 15-3 stomping of Milwaukee. In three games so far, Plouffe is 3-for-13 with a double, three RBI, and one run scored.
Despite coming up short on Sunday, Plouffe has thoroughly enjoyed his first weekend in the Major Leagues, being reunited with childhood friend Delmon Young, minor league pal Butera, and just soaking everything in without knowing what the immediate or long-term future holds.
"Right now I'm day to day," Plouffe said. "I don't know what my role is, except right now I know I'm playing shortstop today. That's it.
"For right now (it's fine). Eventually I'm going to want to get comfortable, know where you're at, but yeah this is great. I'm getting a chance to play in the big leagues."
Plouffe, a first-round draft pick out of high school in 2004, struggled offensively during the first few seasons of his minor league career. He belted 13 home runs as a 19-year-old at low-A Beloit in 2005, but hit only .223/.300/.345. Plouffe's best season after that came at Class-AA New Britain in 2007, when he hit .274/.326/.410 with nine home runs -- certainly not terrible, but not the offensive outburst he would eventually show this season at Rochester when he hit .303/.367/.493 with four home runs, 11 doubles, and 21 RBI in 152 at bats.
"I basically told myself, 'you'd better get your ass up there,'" Plouffe said. "Things kind of just came together (in Rochester).
"I think when you first get drafted, (life) is all good, and you just want to go out there and play, and the big picture isn't there yet. You just think that everything's going to happen.
"Then you realize you're going to have to make some adjustments, and you're going to need to get a routine, first off, and learn how to play 140 games. And then it's just confidence after that."
To help gain that confidence offensively, Plouffe credits Bill Springman, the Twins' minor league hitting coordinator. Plouffe said Springman helped him to see the ball more, be more aggressive in hitters counts, and be more selective overall. The newfound selectiveness has helped Plouffe become a better, and more confident hitter.
"You've got to go out there thinking that you're the best player on the field," Plouffe said. "Obviously that's not always the case, especially on this field (with the Twins), but you've got to think that."
"You get some hitting coaches that want you to swing a certain way, and (Springman) is the kind of guy that will let you do what you do, but tweak you a little bit."
Current starting shortstop J.J. Hardy remains sidelined with a wrist injury. He took batting practice on Saturday and Sunday and still feels some soreness, but the Twins are hopeful he can return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Yankees visit Minneapolis.
Of course, Hardy's eventual return leaves Plouffe's short-term status up in the air. He could be sent back to Rochester as early as Tuesday, but depending on the status of Hardy, and also 3B Nick Punto, who received a cortisone shot in his finger, Plouffe could be asked to stick around and play a different position.
Playing different positions could help solidify Plouffe's long-term roster aspirations as well, because Hardy is under contract through at least 2011.
Plouffe played almost exclusively at shortstop in Rochester this season, but in 2009 he played 20 games at second base and 32 games at third base. He also spent time in practice working with Paul Molitor at second base during spring training this year.
"There was one time in this organization they said (third base) might be his best position, so I know he can play third base," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Second base might be a bit of a stretch. He hasn't done it that much, but it wouldn't be anything to get him over there and start working at it if we have to."
Regardless of what happens with Plouffe over the next couple days, and over the next couple years for that matter, at least he knows he has a plan B with music.
"We jam," Plouffe said.
"We started writing lyrics."
Or maybe a few extra groundballs wouldn't hurt...