Monday, March 26, 2012

Revere becomes outfield's odd man out

A year removed from what could be called an exciting rookie season, Ben Revere looks as if he could be the odd man out in the battle for a starting outfield spot with the 2012 Minnesota Twins. On Sunday Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Josh Willingham would start the year as the team's left fielder, the position he has played for most of his career. This was a switch from what the plan had been at the beginning of spring training. At that time, it seemed that the outfield would be composed of Willingham in right field, Revere in left field, and Denard Span as the center fielder. With only a few weeks until Opening Day, there has been a shift to the line-up.

The organization hasn't specifically ruled Revere out for the final outfield spot as Gardenhire left the door open for Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, and Revere to win the starting right field job. But it was widely thought that with his lack of arm strength, Revere would not be a good fit for the right field job. In an interview over the weekend, Gardenhire doesn't seem as swayed by this anymore and Revere has started to see a little more time in right field.

One of the most damaging quotes for Revere came from his manager over the weekend and this is what gave fans the first idea that he might have become the outfield's odd man out. "If he's going to be a part-time starter and a part-time extra guy, you've got to be able to play them all." This is a far cry from the Gardenhire who was disappointed to have to send Revere down to Triple-A after his first call-up in 2011. The rest of the roster might be coming together in a different way than was originally planned by the manager and it looks like Revere will be one of the players forced to shift his role.

A lot of the Opening Day line-up will hinge on where Justin Morneau is slated to play for the Twins. If the team is forced to move Morneau from first base to designated hitter, this will cause the manager to do some more shifting to his line-up. In the original plan laid out by Gardenhire, Morneau would have played at first base with Ryan Doumit serving as the designated hitter. If Morneau is taking up most of the at-bats in the DH role, the team is going to have to find other spots for Doumit to play and one of those roles could be in the outfield.

Another player is not making it easy for the Twins to send him to Triple-A for the start of the 2012 season. Chris Parmelee's hot play has stood out to the Twins and he has caught the eye of the manager and the front office. In 15 games, he has batted .286/.362/.571 with three home runs, a triple, and a double. He has also shown a much more disciplined approach at the plate as he leads the team with eight walks. In his minor league career, he has played 282 games in right field and this isn't much less than the 323 he has played at first base. Parmelee's ability to play both positions and his hot bat could sneak him onto the roster for Opening Day.

With Parmelee's emergence and other roster question marks, Revere could be asked to fill a few different roles to start the year. If he were to fill a back-up outfielder role, he could be used as a late inning defensive replacement for some of the slower corner outfielders. As recently as 2009, the Twins did this with Carlos Gomez and Span filling two of the outfield positions late in games. The Twins used an outfield combination of Revere, Span, and Joe Benson over the weekend to see how these three gifted defensive outfielders could work together.

Revere might not have put together a perfect rookie campaign but at the onset of spring training it looked like he was set to be a starting outfield for the Twins. He ended last season with a good last month of the season as he had his best month at the plate by hitting .311/.342/.368 in 24 games. It looks as if he will now be a roaming outfielder who fills in for players on their off days. He can also be a threat off of the bench in late inning pinch running situations and he can be used as a defensive upgrade for Willingham or whoever wins the right field job.

There is a good chance Revere will still be on the 25-man roster but his role is in flux as the team tries to sort out the best roster to help the Twins rebound from a horrendous 2011 season. 

1 comment:

TT said...

If Parmelee is on the roster, I don't see where Revere fits. Not unless they are ready to give up on Trevor Plouffe. If Morneau is at first, Parmelee will play in the outfield. If Morneau is DH, Parmelee is at first and Doumit will get at bats in the outfield. Either way, Revere's only role is as a backup fighting with Plouffe for at bats and a late inning defensive replacement.