JUPITER, Fla. - Unless something bizarre happens this spring, Chris Parmelee will open the season as the Twins' right fielder. But his preparations for that job are about to take a two-week detour at first base.
Parmelee moved back to the infield for the first time this spring on Friday, and it won't be the last time. He is one of only three Twins whose careers have been spent primarily at first base, and the other two -- Justin Morneau and Chris Colabello -- leave camp this weekend to take part in the World Baseball Classic. Even Joe Mauer, who played the position 30 times last year, is headed to the WBC.
That leaves manager Ron Gardenhire looking at 10 games or more with no options but Parmelee, plus a bunch of catchers and outfielders trying to learn the position. "I wanted to get [Parmelee] started over there. I don't have that many first basemen left," Gardenhire said. "We're making new ones as we go. We're putting guys over there and giving them a T.K. [Tom Kelly] version of first base."
Kelly has been training Jeff Clement, Drew Butera and Chris Herrmann, all catchers, plus outfielder Brian Dinkelman in the basics of the position. "I'm sure there are guys who have done it a little bit," Gardenhire said.
For Parmelee, it's a nice break from his new position, though he won't stop training in right. He's been entirely focused on the outfield up to now, but "I'll take a group [of practice repetitions] at first base and a group in the outfield [every day], so I can still keep the wheels lubed a little bit at both positions," he said. The outfield training is going well, he added. "I'm feeling more comfortable every game, every inning out there," he said. "It feels good to play both, to jump back and forth."
Stiffness keeps Willingham off bus
Josh Willingham was in Friday's original lineup, but the outfielder looked stiff during Thursday's game, Gardenhire said.
"After his last at-bat, he got to first base and I saw him bending over. I thought, 'Either he doesn't want to go on a bus ride, or he's stiff,'" Gardenhire said. "So I talked to him afterward. He said he's a little bit stiff. He texted me this morning, said he's OK. So he's just going to go through the workout this morning."
Brian Dozier also was bumped because Jamey Carroll hadn't played in a couple of days. "I wanted to get Jamey some at-bats," Gardenhire said, "and I wanted someone close to my age I could talk to on the bus."
Kyle Gibson, who has surrendered one baserunner in his first two innings, takes the mound as the Twins try to stretch their winning streak to six. They'll face their Fort Myers rivals, the Red Sox, at Hammond Stadium.