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Updated: May 13th, 2012 3:18pm
Notebook: Parmelee, Plouffe struggling; Twins facing roster decisions

Notebook: Parmelee, Plouffe struggling; Twins facing roster decisions

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Parmelee came to the plate in a key spot in the fourth inning on Saturday night with the bases loaded and the Twins leading 1-0.

Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchinson had just walked the previous two hitters, including a bases-loaded free pass to Trevor Plouffe, and Parmelee had a chance to break the game open.

Instead of being patient and taking a pitch or a two -- seeing as how the pitcher just walked two batters in a row -- Parmelee swung at a first-pitch changeup and grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

Give the 24-year-old first baseman credit for his honesty. He was asked about the at-bat after the game and said, "I thought it was a fastball." He simply got fooled.

"But first pitch?" manager Gardenhire said Sunday. "After bases loaded? Where was the ball, kind of down and away? I would think first pitch you're looking middle to in, as a left-handed hitter in that situation. And I don't think that ball was middle-in. And he chased. Really, that's losing a battle there. I think as a hitter I'm looking in and I swing first pitch at a changeup going away and roll over weakly, I pretty much gave an at-bat away. If I'm looking changeup, OK."

Parmelee entered Sunday's game hitting just .188/.253/.275 in 87 plate appearances, but because of Morneau's uncertain status the Twins have limited options at first base.

Parmelee isn't the only young hitter struggling. Plouffe left 11 men on base between Friday and Saturday's games, dropping his batting line to .130/.277/.204.

"Obviously he's got to put the ball in play a little bit better," Gardenhire told 1500 ESPN.

He added, "We need production. We need production from five on down, six on down. I think you're seeing (Ryan) Doumit's getting pitched pretty tough right now. They're not really giving in to him much. He's not getting too many pitches to hit right now."

That's because Doumit is currently the last line of defense in a meek Twins lineup.

On Sunday, for instance, Doumit batted fifth and was followed by Plouffe (.481 OPS), Erik Komatsu (.515), Drew Butera (.485 career) and Jamey Carroll (.565).

Parmelee has minor league options remaining. Plouffe does not.

Florimon next in line?

Job security is currently sparse with the Twins, which is part of the reason why shortstop Pedro Florimon has raised a few eyebrows with his performance between Double-A and now Triple-A.

Florimon, claimed off waivers from the Orioles in December, came into Sunday's games hitting .285/.338/.401 with four home runs and four doubles in 151 total minor league plate appearances this season.

More importantly he is said to be a very good defensive infielder who can play multiple positions.

Florimon, 25, has "smooth, great hands," Gardenhire said on 1500 ESPN Sunday morning, adding, "He can pick it... One of the better fielders we have in the organization. ...

"Not a big bat guy yet, but he has a chance to be one. He's a player, and he looks like he's going to be a pretty smooth guy up here."

From 13 to 12 pitchers?

Twins coaches and decision-makers had discussions on Sunday morning about how to eventually cut down from 13 pitchers to 12.

"We're waiting on the Morneau situation to kind of evolve," Gardenhire said, adding "Once you start looking at our bullpen there's no one deserving of going anywhere. They're all throwing the ball fantastic. ... Our bullpen is getting it done."

Gardenhire has a point. Heading into Sunday the Twins' bullpen ERA (3.49) ranked 12th in baseball. Glen Perkins and Jared Burton are each striking out at least one batter per inning, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak and Alex Burnett all own ERAs south of 3.10 while limiting walks, and Matt Capps has been solid as closer.

Jeff Gray owns an ERA of 1.84, but that figure is deceptive. He has issued eight walks in 14 2/3 innings while stranding 98.8% of inherited baserunners. At some point something has to give, but in the meantime it'd be hard to tell Gray -- who is out of minor league options -- that he's out of a spot in the 'pen.

Francisco Liriano is also a member of the bullpen now.

Wimmers visited Minneapolis

Right-hander Alex Wimmers traveled to Minneapolis earlier this week to allow Twins doctors a hands-on look at his partially torn UCL. The former first-round pick also sat down and chatted with general manager Terry Ryan for an hour.

Wimmers will continue with rehab therapy in hopes of returning to game action by the end of June, but rehab offers no guarantees with ligament injuries.

Wimmers' injury is unfortunate for the pitching-hungry Twins because he started the season at Double-A and was "over all that other stuff," Ryan said, referring to his mental and throwing problems from 2011.

"It is (disappointing) for everybody involved, including him. He was doing pretty good this spring."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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