SEATTLE – Chris Herrmann has some advice for those still trying to realize their major league dreams.
“Don’t just settle for one position, because you never know what is going to happen,” he said. “Like my situation. I didn’t know I was going to go back to catching because all these other teams were telling me, ‘You’re too athletic to be a catcher,’ which doesn’t make any sense. You have to always play other positions.”
Herrmann, who debuted last season and is in his second stint with the Twins this season, is making the most of his opportunity to play while All-Star Joe Mauer is away on paternity leave. He caught Tuesday, played right field Wednesday, caught and played right Thursday and was back in right field Friday. He’s batted seventh, fifth, second and fifth in those games.
There are opportunities for young players to get some time in the Twins lineups, and Herrmann, a sixth-round pick in 2009, will do all he can to take advantage. And he feels being able to catch — and being willing to play the outfield — has helped his cause.
“In junior college [Alvin (Texas) Community College] I played catcher and third base, and every now and then I would play the outfield,” Herrmann said. “Then I got a scholarship to Miami and they told me I was going to catch and all that.”
Herrmann was drafted by Baltimore in the 10th round in 2008. That’s when he was told he was too athletic to be a catcher. He transferred to Miami expecting to catch, but the job went to another player. It was back to the outfield.
Twins scout Hector Otero, however, had seen Herrmann catch in the past and recommended him before the 2009 draft, and the Twins selected him. Herrmann has caught and played both corner outfield positions in the minors. He’s batted .258 with 29 home runs in five minor league seasons, but the Twins feel he’s got some life in his bat.
“He’s very athletic,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He can do different things, and right now we need that because he is going to catch some, he is going to play the outfield some.”
Herrmann, a lefthanded hitter, was 1-for-18 last season after being called up. This year, he doesn’t look as overmatched and has come through with a couple of big hits — none bigger than his grand slam Tuesday that helped the Twins beat the Angels 10-3 in 10 innings.
“The one thing that makes me confident is going up there and knowing you can get the job done,” Herrmann said. “It is not going to happen every time, but you have to have the mindset that I’m going to put the ball in play and hit it hard somewhere.”
Herrmann entered play Friday batting .355 with two homers and nine RBI in 11 games. He was 0-for-2 after two at-bats Thursday but hit a single in the seventh off Danny Farquahar and then an RBI double off veteran lefthander Oliver Perez in the ninth.
“He had a good at-bat,” Gardenhire said of Herrmann’s final plate appearance. “He stayed in there. He missed one slider by a foot but he made an adjustment and stayed on the ball and shot it the other way. That’s the adjustments you have to make as a hitter.
“I thought he did a really nice job. He’s got things to learn and it is a process, but he has been doing well.”