Gardy to Casilla: 'You're the utility guy right now'

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2012 - 6:47 AM

Twins infielder Alexi Casilla went to manager Ron Gardenhire's office after Sunday's game to get an explanation about his recent lack of playing time.

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Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

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Twins infielder Alexi Casilla went to manager Ron Gardenhire's office after Sunday's game to get an explanation about his recent lack of playing time.

After starting 24 of the season's first 27 games at second base and batting .247, Casilla has started just once in the past eight games.

When the Twins promoted shortstop Brian Dozier from Class AAA Rochester last week, Gardenhire met with veteran Jamey Carroll to explain things and began starting Carroll at second base. With Trevor Plouffe replacing Danny Valencia at third, Casilla had been on the bench wondering about his role.

There was speculation in the clubhouse Monday that Casilla told Gardenhire "play me or trade me," but Casilla said that wasn't the case. He wanted an explanation and felt better after talking to the manager.

"We're trying to win games," Casilla said. "I learned from my family that things like this make me stronger, make me work harder. Maybe what I'm doing is not enough, so I've got to work harder to get back to the lineup. And I'll be available whenever they need me."

Gardenhire said Casilla likely will start Tuesday's series finale against Cleveland.

"I'm just trying to mix it up and look at Plouffey over there a little bit," Gardenhire said. "Jamey's playing the heck out of second base. And my shortstop [Dozier] -- I don't think he's ready for a day off yet. As I told Lexi, 'You're the utility guy right now, and we're going to move you around a little bit.' "

Morneau nears return

Justin Morneau took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the disabled list with a sore left wrist. He is eligible to return Wednesday, when the Twins begin a two-game series in Detroit.

"I think we're in discussions -- negotiations, I'll call it," Morneau said. "Hopefully it's sooner rather than later. We've got [Doug] Fister and [Rick] Porcello in Detroit. I've already been look ahead to who we're facing, so I'm optimistic that I'll be able to get in there soon."

Draft class is lacking

The Twins hold the No. 2 pick and five of the first 72 picks in this year's draft, which starts June 4, but there is growing sentiment that there's less talent available than in recent years, especially last year.

Mike Radcliff, the Twins vice president of player personnel, said there are always players who outperform draft day expectations, "but at this moment in time, this crop of talent is not very good," he said. "Last year, there was about seven or eight guys that were high end. We had eight guys with an 8 [grade on a 2-8 scale] -- the highest value you can give a guy -- and this year we have zero. ...

"That being said, there's going to be some good major league players [drafted], and we've gotta find them, gotta pick the right ones."

The Astros hold the No. 1 pick. At No. 2, all signs point to the Twins either taking Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton or one of two college pitchers -- Stanford's Mark Appel or San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer.

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