Popular Parmelee takes it all in stride

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL IIILNEAL@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: September 9, 2012 - 1:21 AM

Knowing he needed at-bats, the slugger made the most of his Class AAA time, and now he's giving the Twins flexibility.

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Chris Parmelee was sent back to the minors not once, not twice, but three times this season. He never took the demotions hard or as a sign that he was a prospect with serious flaws in his game.

Parmelee needed at-bats, and playing time with the Twins was limited at the positions he plays. Ben Revere took control of right field, and Justin Morneau became comfortable playing first base in his first full season after dealing with concussion issues and other injuries in 2009 and 2010. Parmelee had to be patient.

"The thing is, you can't take a demotion too hard, because it's one of those things where it's kind of the situation I was in," he said. "Some of it was out of my hands; you kind of just have to go down and keep that positive attitude, get your work in and try to put up some numbers to get back up there."

As the season unfolded, it became obvious that the Twins had a player at Class AAA Rochester who deserved to be in the majors -- and someone who gives them options for 2013.

Parmelee lit up the International League, batting .338 with 17 homers (a team high), 49 RBI and a 1.102 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for the Red Wings in just 64 games. He had such an impact that fans voted him Rochester's most valuable player -- selecting him over teammates who spent the entire 144-game season there.

With Denard Span on the disabled list, allowing Revere to slide over to center, and rosters being expanded in September, Parmelee is expected to get a long look in the Twins lineup the rest of the season. Since coming up to replace Span on the roster Aug. 29, Parmelee is batting .371 with three homers and nine RBI in nine games, getting hits in his first eight games. Not only has he driven the ball well, he's using the whole field -- a good sign for a young hitter.

"What's not to like?" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If you make a mistake, he seems to hit it pretty hard right now."

Parmelee, 24, was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft. He made his major league debut last September and opened eyes by batting .355 with four home runs and 14 RBI in 21 games. He made the Opening Day roster this season but was demoted May 15 after batting .179 in 27 games and seeing his playing time shrink as Morneau settled back in at first base. Parmelee was called up June 8 for about a month, then for three days in late July when Morneau went on paternity leave. Now he's back for the rest of the season.

"I feel like the term 'midseason form' is starting to kick in," he said. "I've had a couple hundred at-bats, and now I'm starting to find a groove a little bit."

Parmelee has played both first base and right field in his minor league career, giving him different ways to break into the lineup. He's not going to cover all the ground in the outfield but will be functional out there.

"Parmelee has shown the ability that he's athletic enough to go out there," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "He certainly doesn't have the range of some of the people we have, but those guys don't have the bat he has."

The Twins can move forward with their offseason plans knowing that Parmelee can be their Opening Day right fielder if they decide to trade Span or Revere in order to add talent at positions of need. An eye-popping offer for Morneau might mean Parmelee could step in at first base.

The more Parmelee plays, the more he makes a case for the Twins to find a spot for him in the 2013 lineup.

"You really don't have much control over where you go," Parmelee said. "You just have to play the game and let them make the decision."

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