Notebook: Twins hoping that Chris Parmelee grabs right field job
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins' decision to trade Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason has created a three-way competition for the center field job between Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni.
No such competition is expected for the right field job that Revere held for much of last season.
As the Twins get set to hold their first full-squad workout of spring training on Saturday, the hope is that Chris Parmelee can take hold of that spot.
Parmelee, the 20th pick in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft by the Twins, said Friday that he has gotten "some indication" that the right field job will be his to take this spring. Nonetheless, he plans to approach the situation as if he's battling for the position.
"I consider it as I still have to come in, I still have to get my work in and, to me, I need to earn that job," he said. "I don't want to come out and take it for granted that I have a position. I still need to stay hungry and go out there and still compete."
Parmelee played in 21 games for the Twins in 2011, all at first base, and last season he appeared in 64 games. Thirty-eight of those came at first base, 16 in right field, one in left field and another at designated hitter.
While Parmelee could be the long-term replacement for Justin Morneau at first, he said he's very comfortable in right.
"I started my career in right field in the minor leagues," Parmelee said. "I got drafted as a right fielder and played the first three years in right field primarily. Then I moved to first base. ... It's going to be a fun year. I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's the same game whether you're in Triple-A or the big leagues. You just kind of have to treat it that way. Come in early, get your work in and have fun out there."
Parmelee hit only .229 with the Twins last season with five home runs and 20 RBI in 192 at-bats. This came after he made a positive impression in 2011, by hitting .355 with four home runs and 14 RBI in 76 at-bats. In 64 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2012, Parmelee had a .338 average with 17 home runs and 49 RBI.
So what's the biggest difference between the level of competition at Rochester and Minnesota?
"The amount of mistakes," Parmelee said. "I know as a pitcher (in the major leagues) they make less mistakes. As a hitter, you can't afford to miss certain pitches because you might not get it again, either that game or that at-bat. So I'd say the amount of mistakes you have to capitalize on."
As far as playing right field on a daily basis, Parmelee knows that could be a challenge, too, especially at Target Field. The Twins home ballpark presents the right fielder with three separate surfaces on the wall. This includes the limestone overhang, the standard padded wall and the green-painted wood that separates the stone and padding.
A fly ball can hit off each of the surfaces very differently, creating real issues at times.
"You can prepare (for it), but nothing is like when you're in the game and something comes off of either marble, concrete or plywood," Parmelee said. "There are little subtle changes out there, where in the game you don't know where that ball is going to hit off the wall. You don't know how close to get to it, how far to get from it. I'm going to go out there and try to catch everything I can. But if it's off that wall, I hope the center fielder is backing me up."
Why mess with success?
Coming off the best power season of his career, Josh Willingham did not change a thing in his offseason routine this winter.
"I've done the same thing for three offseasons in a row now," said Willingham, who had 35 home runs and 110 RBI last season after signing a three-year, $21 million deal last offseason with the Twins. "(I had) just kind of the same time frame with everything. The same workouts pretty much. That's one thing you find out over your career is what works for you and what doesn't. You try to incorporate things that do with some of the things that your strength guy wants you to do."
Willingham, who will turn 34 on Sunday, said he began working with weights around Thanksgiving and then started back with baseball activities after the New Year.
The key thing for the left fielder last season was that he was able to stay healthy. He played in a career-high 145 games and also had the benefit of hitting cleanup between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
"We've just got to continue to do what we did," Willingham said when asked how good the Twins' offense can be in 2013. "A lot of guys had pretty good years last year. I know Mournie didn't have as good of year as he would have liked to have had, but he's probably going to be a lot healthier this year and that's going to have a lot to do with his success. So hopefully he can have a good year for us.
"I think a lot of it is going to depend on the top of the order. Denard and Ben did a lot of good things for us last year offensively and defensively. We'll have to get some people to step up and pick up some of that slack. There's going to be a lot of opportunity there for those guys so we'll see what happens."
As for his own expectations, Willingham joked that "if I don't hit 50 (home runs) this year, I'm going home."
"I don't know what I did for myself," he said, reflecting on his success in 2012. "I've never hit that many home runs or driven in that many runs before. A lot of that had to do with some guys at the top of the order. Joe, obviously hitting behind him he's on base all the time. I have no idea. I don't set number goals anyway. I think one of the keys is to be healthy."
While Willingham credits Span and Revere with being productive members of the lineup last season, he also understands that after back-to-back seasons of 99 and 96 losses, the Twins had to find a way to get some starting pitching help.
"It was no secret that our starting pitching (needed help)," he said, "so that's why we had to get rid of a couple of good players to get some good (pitchers) in return. Hopefully we'll have some depth to pick up right where those guys left off and then get some more starting pitching to help our rotation compete. You have to be able to compete in starting rotation because that's the name of the game. Pitching wins at every level."
Odds and ends
Willingham, who has his issues playing left field, on his reaction after finding out Span and Revere were both traded: "I looked at that as my opportunity to play center. I always wanted to play center field. I understand what was going on. We needed some pitching. I'm sure that wasn't their goal to trade both of those guys but it happened to hopefully better our team." Willingham, by the way, was kidding about playing center field.
Pitchers and catchers had a brief workout on Friday but it wasn't because of the dreary weather in Fort Myers that things were cut short. Instead, it was a fund-raising golf tournament that players attended in the afternoon.
Third baseman Deibinson Romero's arrival at spring training has been delayed by visa issues.