Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If at first ...

Ryan Doumit is
likely to be the Twins'
primary designated
hitter in 2012.
One of the attractive things about signing Ryan Doumit was the promise of defensive versatility. While primarily a catcher, he has also played right field and first base some in the big leagues. This is not to say that he's particularly adept at any of these positions, but he figured to see some time filling in at each.

But Doumit didn't sound too thrilled with the prospect of playing first base when he signed in December, and he apparently hasn't warmed to the notion since. Ron Gardenhire said Monday first base is not in the plans for Doumit.

This decision fits Gardenhire's style perfectly. He's not going to force an established player to play someplace he's uncomfortable -- not, at least, if there's someplace else the guy can play that helps the team.

Gardy may have had Doumit play a little first base during the infield drills during this first week or so and realized that that prospect made two people uncomfortable: Doumit and Gardy.

But this raises some questions, not the least of which is: Who's the backup to Justin Morneau if not Doumit?

This is a different question than "Who's the first baseman if Morneau's concussion problems re-emerge?" If Morneau goes on the disabled list, somebody will take his place on the active roster, and that somebody is likely to be the regular at first. This question assumes that Chris Parmelee and Aaron Bates and Steve Pearce are all in the minors and Morneau is due for a day off.

The possibilities:

Joe Mauer. The Twins plan/expect him to catch 120-130 games this year, but that leaves a couple dozen for him to DH, play a different position or sit. Mauer will probably rotate out to first with some regularity, with Doumit catching if Morneau is to stay in the lineup as the DH.

Luke Hughes. The Aussie is out of options. He is likely to make the roster as a utility man -- second base, third base, first base. Assuming, of course, that his shoulder injury (sustained in a collision in winter ball in his homeland) does't put him on the disabled list.

Trevor Plouffe. His primary focus this spring is supposed to be the outfield. He hasn't played much at first in the minors, so tossing him into the first base mix might be a bit of an adventure. Still, it might be away to get his bat into the lineup against a lefty.

1 comment:

  1. 2 other possibilities. Willingham could play some first. He hasn't done so for a number of years, but he has some experience there. If Burroughs makes the team, he could see time at first as well.