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Updated: March 25th, 2012 11:16am
Ron Gardenhire says Josh Willingham will be the starting left fielder

Ron Gardenhire says Josh Willingham will be the starting left fielder

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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JUPITER, Fla. -- Two-thirds of the Minnesota Twins outfield is set, and it's not the alignment that was presented at the start of spring training.

Manager Ron Gardenhire announced prior to Sunday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals that Josh Willingham would be his primary left fielder once the regular season begins.

Gardenhire said Span will be his primary center fielder.

When Willingham signed with the Twins this offseason, he was slated to take over Michael Cuddyer's slot in right field, and that's where he played for the majority of spring training. Late last week, Gardenhire switched Willingham to left field, where he has played 662 of his 693 career games.

Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe were initially competing for the starting job in left field, but they'll now battle for playing time in right field, along with Chris Parmelee, who was slated to start his second straight game at the position on Sunday. Revere saw playing time in right field on Saturday.

"I thought Ben in left field sounded fine," Gardenhire said, "but then you start seeing everything and things start changing a little bit, and then I start moving them around. If he's going to be a part-time starter and part-time extra guy, you've gotta be able to play them all."

If Revere plays right field, even on a part-time basis, arm strength could certainly be an issue, to which Gardenhire said, "What does it matter?"

"Either you throw the ball poorly in left, or you throw the ball poorly in right. ...

"His arm's getting better and better. If he releases it right and doesn't try to overthrow the ball, his arm's fine. If he uses good fundamentals, he's fine, it doesn't matter if he's in left or right. Know what I'm saying."

Gardenhire also acknowledged that his right field situationhinges "a lot" on who will play first base. Justin Morneau's bat finally appears to be coming around after a two-homer day on Saturday, but he hasn't played first base since March 13.

Parmelee has impressed everyone so far this spring, hitting .316/.395/.632 with three home runs, and he will be given a long, hard look over the final 10 days of spring training.

Revere is hitting .324/.359/.378 with three stolen bases, and Plouffe .276/.344/.310 while being slowed with a strained hamstring over the past week or so.

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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