Twins' Chris Parmelee earns his turn -- at a new position

A year after riding the Rochester shuttle (and mashing down there), he's primed to take over in right field.

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Chris Parmelee made some throws from right field durning practice Wednesday at Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, FL.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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FORT MYERS, FLA. - The 2013 Twins will have several regulars in the developmental stages of their careers. Like at third base, center field and at least one of the two middle-infield positions.

Right field could be included in that mix, too. But the way the Twins talk about Chris Parmelee, they expect him to step in and produce like an experienced hitter.

Parmelee, 25, is the clear front-runner for the right field job a year after he shuttled between the Twins and Class AAA Rochester. He batted .229 in 64 games with the Twins but manhandled International League pitching, batting .338 with 17 homers and 49 RBI in 64 games with the Red Wings.

That has the Twins believing that Parmelee, who is better suited to play first base, will settle in nicely, even if he's playing the outfield.

"Did you look at his numbers from last year?'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan asked. "They were eye-popping. It's his turn. He's graduated. Let's go. He put up numbers down there that were phenomenal.

"We sent him back [to Rochester], and what does he do? He goes off. So he's going to get every opportunity to be the everyday right fielder, and it looks like when he gets the repetitions and the consistency in playing time, he responds.''

There was no cap and gown hanging in Parmelee's stall this week, and the 2006 first-round pick doesn't consider himself a graduate. But he is grateful for a chance to avoid logging the air miles between Rochester and the Twin Cities like he did a year ago.

"I still have to go out there and compete,'' he said. "I'm not going to take a lot for granted that the spot is mine.''

Parmelee endured a 2012 season during which he made the Opening Day roster but was demoted three times as the season unfolded. Justin Morneau was the designated hitter but eventually returned to his customary first-base position as he found his comfort zone after battlling concussion issues. Joe Mauer played first base and was the DH when he wasn't catching. Ryan Doumit was the DH when he didn't catch.

First base was blocked, and right field was blocked when the Twins opted to go with the speedy Ben Revere. Parmelee kept returning to Rochester so his swing wouldn't get out of whack on the bench -- and it didn't.

"It was difficult,'' Parmelee said. "It was something new for me, something I had never experienced before. It takes a special person to come off of the bench and pinch-hit. I definitely give kudos to guys who come off the bench and get knocks in tight games. It is not easy sitting the whole game then getting an at-bat late. If it happens again, I will definitely be more prepared and will know how to handle it a little better.''

His first home run will outdo everything Revere did, power-wise, in 254 games as a Twin. But Parmelee doesn't have anything close to Revere's range and will have to prove himself in the field. He has a better arm than Revere and worked on his first-step quickness during the offseason to get better jumps on balls hit his way.

He'll need to. Revere had an outstanding 15.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (according to www.fangraphs.com) in 708 1/3 innings last season. Parmelee's, in 132 innings, was 1.0.

Twins coach Scott Ullger, who works with the outfielders, wants Parmelee to come to the park early during the regular season to work on his defensive skills -- not just for extra hitting.

"We have been talking about [the fact] that we hit all the time,'' Parmelee said, "maybe taking one day and take five to 10 minutes and make 10 to 12 throws, getting that arm extended. You might have one or two opportunities a week to throw a guy out in a game. When it comes, you have to have it in the tank.''

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he has no worries about putting Parmelee -- who has 268 at-bats in the majors -- in right field.

"I'm looking forward to watching him play,'' Gardenhire said. "I think he's going to have a really good year for us. I think the kid can swing the bat. I think he's going to be fine in right. He's earned this opportunity, now go get it.''

  • TWINS SPRING TRAINING • First exhibition: 12:05 p.m. Saturday vs. Baltimore • Sarasota. Fla. • Radio: 1500-AM

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