Carroll, Casilla have to stabliize middle infield

  • Updated: March 30, 2012 - 2:47 PM
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Jamey Carroll

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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Stabilize the middle infield

The Twins long have prided themselves on fundamental defense, but last year, they committed 119 errors, the second most in the American League.

Twenty-nine of those errors came at shortstop, including 11 from Trevor Plouffe and 10 from Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Enter Jamey Carroll.

The Twins signed Carroll to a two-year contract and made him their starting shortstop, knowing sure-handed prospect Brian Dozier could be ready to take his place soon.

At 38, Carroll doesn't have great range, but he'll make the routine plays. And as basic as that sounds, such improvement could do wonders for the pitching staff. Like Nick Punto, Carroll has a way of making the players around him better defensively, which should help settle Alexi Casilla at second base.

Last year, second base was a carousel for the Twins. Luke Hughes made 34 starts there, Plouffe made 15, Michael Cuddyer made 14 and Brian Dinkelman made 11. None of that did much to help the pitching staff's confidence.

Carroll has been durable the past two years. Casilla, a notoriously slow starter, has yet to play more than 98 games in any big-league season. But if these two can develop an early comfort as a middle infield duo, the whole team should benefit.

Once Dozier is ready at Class AAA Rochester, Carroll should slide nicely into a utility role.

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