Plouffe: Back in outfield school

The former shortstop couldn't secure that position last season, but the Twins hope his new spot will allow him to blossom.

hide

Trevor Plouffe trained much of the offseason at Pepperdine University, getting additional practice in the outfield.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Pepperdine University, nestled among 830 acres that overlook the Pacific Ocean, has been ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world.

It was there that Trevor Plouffe completed his course of Outfield 101. Plouffe spent much of his offseason continuing his transformation from shortstop to outfielder -- and clearing his mind after a 2011 season during which he struggled mightily when given the chance to take over at shortstop.

Plouffe, a first-round pick in 2004, batted .238 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 81 games over two call-ups to the majors. He committed 12 errors, many of them with his arm, and his mistakes exposed a farm system that failed the Twins when they needed to replace injured players.

The Twins used Plouffe in the outfield in 13 games last season, but it wasn't until General Manager Terry Ryan called Plouffe in October that the move to the outfield became official.

So it was back to school for Plouffe, who was drafted out of high school but lives a few minutes away from Malibu, Calif., where Pepperdine is located.

"They opened their facilities up, so they have a weight room to work out in and cages we can hit in," Plouffe said, "What was nice for me was that they had practice where they would hit on the field. I would get to shag their [batting practice]. I would go out there as much as I could, pretty much every day I was out there. A couple rounds a day and just seeing balls off the bat. This is the best way for me, taking the balls off the bat."

Part of him feels bad about leaving a position he's played for so long, but when Ryan explained that the move helps the club and that they were going to add Jamey Carroll to solidify short, Plouffe said he was all for it.

"I didn't play well last year in the infield," Plouffe said. "I wasn't happy about it. I thought I was a better shortstop than I showed. At the same time, like Terry said, this is a move that helps our team and I'll give that up 100 times out of 100 to not experience the losses like we had last year. The main thing that everyone wants now in this clubhouse, after experiencing last year, is just winning. By any means."

The Twins consider their starting outfield to be Ben Revere in left, Denard Span in center and free-agent addition Josh Willingham in right. But Plouffe could work his way into the picture because his righthanded power potential is something the Twins lack, outside of Willingham.

The Twins are hoping more playing time in the outfield builds Plouffe's confidence. While players have been known to let offensive struggles affect their defense, for Plouffe it was the opposite. An error in the field would affect him at the plate.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he noticed that from Plouffe last season.

"Both ways," Gardenhire said. "Taking his offense out to his defense and ... young players go through that."

Twins coach Jerry White said Plouffe has looked fairly comfortable in the outfield during drills this spring but needs more experience in tracking low line drives, the toughest adjustment for a player moving from the infield to the outfield.

Several players have made that transition in recent years and had their careers take off. Twins officials believe Michael Cuddyer, who left the team as a free agent this offseason for Colorado, relaxed more after moving from third base, where he had a poor .943 career fielding percentage, to the outfield. Another example is Royals outfielder Alex Gordon. Highly touted as a third baseman, he committed 30 errors his first two seasons there and batted .253. Kansas City made him a full-time outfielder last year and he batted .303 with 23 homers and 87 RBI.

What's tantalizing about Plouffe, 25, is that he hit .313 with 15 homers and 33 RBI and posted a 1.019 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 51 games at Class AAA Rochester last season, evidence of the power potential the Twins believe he possesses. Club officials hope moving to the outfield will allow Plouffe to relax and let his talents flow.

Plouffe is out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. So being versatile -- he could still be used in the infield -- helps his case.

"We're trying to find a spot for him to try and let his game relax and give us some production with the bat," Ryan said. "The most recent example here was Cuddyer. We finally moved him to the outfield and he took off. [Plouffe] is athletic enough to be able to do it."

After an offseason at "college," Plouffe is ready for his big test.

"I feel good right now," Plouffe said. "We'll start playing games and see how it goes from there."

  • TWINS SPRING TRAINING

    Preseason opener: 12:05 p.m. Saturday vs. Tampa Bay

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 113 FINAL
Phoenix 117
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 0
Detroit 3 FINAL
San Jose 2
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
FIU 69 FINAL
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
UMKC 69
ULM 75 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
SMU 66 FINAL
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 74
UC Irvine 63 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
Cal State Fullerton 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 82
Montana 87 FINAL
Idaho 92
BYU 82 FINAL
Portland 69
Pacific 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 57
Arizona State 41 FINAL
Utah 83
San Diego 39 FINAL
Gonzaga 59
St Marys-CA 84 FINAL
San Francisco 53
Oregon State 48 FINAL
Stanford 75
Long Beach State 59 FINAL
Hawaii 78
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
UMBC 41 FINAL
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
LSU 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
USC 48 FINAL
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
UMKC 51 FINAL
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 74 FINAL
Washington St 69
Santa Clara 75 FINAL
Pacific 87
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 53
UC Santa Barbara 47 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 57
Hawaii 47 FINAL
Long Beach St 46
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
UC Davis 50
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close