FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was an emotional day at Twins camp, where the last cuts are always the most difficult, with players who expected to make the cut receiving some bad news. Chris Parmelee and Scott Diamond, both popular teammates in the clubhouse, were sent out, while Alex Presley was the lucky one, allowed to stay in the majors when Houston claimed him off waivers.
Presley frustrated the Twins because he never really flashed the speed he clearly possesses, never made himself a base-stealing threat. "The one thing we wanted Presley to do is be aggressive," Gardenhire said. "He's just not one of those big base-stealers. He can be. He can run." But it never happened with the Twins.
Aggressiveness is the problem with Parmelee, too, assistant general manager Rob Antony said, but at the plate, not on the bases. After a strong start to the spring, the Twins watched Parmelee revert back to his passive habits as a hitter.
"Taking pitches, taking first-pitch strikes, fastballs down the middle. He needs to go up there with the mentality that he can do some damage, he can be aggressive," Antony said. "We're just looking for him to swing at a strike. Try and hit it hard. Take your chances. Go down swinging."
But the most unusual part of the day was the admission by the Twins that Jason Bartlett made the team for his leadership off the field as much as his play on it. He's batting just .083 this spring, yet convinced the Twins that he could transform the attitude in the clubhouse. That such a makeover was necessary -- that's something teams don't often admit.
"If you're not down in that clubhouse every day, you probably don't get a sense of it. But those guys live together every day, all year," Antony said. "The last few years, some guys just haven't gone about it the way you'd hope. And sometimes that environment can get a little stale. And you need some people who know how that environment should be."
That's Bartlett, the shortstop on the Twins' division title team in 2006 and on the Rays' World Series team in 2008, and an All-Star in 2009. "He's only got a few hits, but I'll say that in the second half, he looks completely different than the first half. He's drawn some walks, he's hit some balls hard lately. From day 1, he's fielded the ball well, he runs the bases well, he does a lot of things you look for. And that can help some other players."
It's just a guess, but I wonder if Bartlett will be quietly steered toward Aaron Hicks, to help him develop and keep good habits as he gets older. Hicks didn't have much help around him when he failed as a rookie last year, and having a leader like Bartlett might prevent some of those deep slumps.
"Leadership can be a difficult thing for a guy who's not a starter, but he's got the ability and the traits," Antony said. "He's been on winning teams, and he can bring it home into the clubhouse. That can help us be a better team."