Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Position competition

Chris Herrmann might be the backup catcher. He might
be a general utility player. Or he might get sent back to
the minors.
The Miguel Sano demotion was made official Monday morning, underscoring the new phase of spring training. It's now not about looking at prospects while easing the players into action. Now the job competition begins in earnest.

In that light, the weekend saw two players who had drawn attention earlier get starts at positions of need.

On Saturday, Chris Herrmann started at catcher. He had two hits in three trips to the plate. More important: Starter Ricky Nolasco pronounced himself pleased with how Herrmann received his pitches.

For what it's worth, Herrmann made a poor throw on an early steal by the Cardinals Saturday. A few batters later, Yadier Molina took off, and Herrmann threw him out. Molina might be the fastest of the Molina brothers, but that's merely to say he can outrun a boulder. Having Molina try to steal was sort of an insult, a "Let's see if this guy can throw anybody out" move.

On Sunday, Eddie Rosario got the start in center field. That the Twins are seriously considering Rosario for the job while Byron Buxton and Sano have already been sent out suggests that they're not anywhere near satisfied with the Aaron Hicks-Jordan Schafer-Shane Robinson options. After all, the rationale for sending Buxton and Sano out applies to Rosario as well. It also suggests that they are unwilling to resort to the Danny Santana fallback option for center.

Center field is not Rosario's end game, but there is certainly more upside to him as a hitter than there is with the other three candidates. The question is, can he handle the position defensively? No matter who winds up with the job, he's not getting a lot of help from the corner outfielders.

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