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Updated: December 4th, 2012 11:19am
Twins intend to use in-house options up the middle next season

Twins intend to use in-house options up the middle next season

by Phil Mackey
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NASHVILLE -- The Minnesota Twins' middle infield was a polarizing bunch in 2012.

According to plus/minus fielding data, Twins shortstops and second basemen, collectively, were among the best defensive bunch in the American League, saving more runs than every team but the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners.

Offense up the middle was a completely different story. Twins shortstops hit a paltry .226/.277/.303 last season. Twins second basemen weren't much better, hitting .245/.296/.308.

The defensive boost was much-needed following a fielding disaster in 2011 led by Tsuyoshi Nishioka (and just think how much worse Twins pitching could have been last season without an upgraded defense).

But the offense at second and short proved to be a giant black hole in a lineup that was otherwise fairly productive.

With the focus squarely on starting pitching, general manager Terry Ryan said the Twins will roll with in-house options up the middle in 2013 and hope for some bats to develop.

"(Jamey) Carroll, (Eduardo) Escobar, (Brian) Dozier, (Pedro) Florimon and guys coming in like (James) Beresford and (Daniel) Santana," Ryan said. "We're open, but... I'm not going to tell you that's our main priority.

"We're looking for pitching. The dollars we set aside for free agents is for pitching. ... There's no use in spending money on a shortstop if we can't throw the ball."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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In this story: Tsuyoshi Nishioka