FORT MYERS, FLA. - Ryan Doumit's first year with a new team in a new league couldn't have gone much better. He appeared at five positions for the Twins last season, providing some thump wherever he played, and making the transition from the National League look easy.
"It was fun coming to the American League,'' he said. "I welcomed the challenge of going into the great unknown, playing against unfamiliar teams in unfamiliar cities and in unfamiliar parks. I loved that.
"After 7 1/2 years in the NL, I though monotony was kind of setting in and I needed something different and something new, and I loved the American League.''
Seems like a statement someone as versatile as Doumit would make -- especially after discovering this thing called a designated hitter, which allowed him to crush pitches without having to play defense.
Now back for his second season with the Twins, the switch-hitting Doumit might not play as many positions as he did last season, but the Twins want his bat in the lineup as much as possible. He's expected to spend plenty of time as the DH in 2013. He is also a solid catcher who can give Joe Mauer a break as needed. And he can play a little outfield if he's needed out there, too.
Doumit might not catch as much as last season -- when he appeared behind the plate in 59 games -- because Mauer wants to catch more. But Doumit batted .275 last season with career highs in home runs (18) and RBI (75), so he figures to fit in somewhere. Things worked out so well that the Twins signed Doumit to a two-year, $7 million extension last season.
"He had a good year for us,'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "His ability to catch, his ability to play the outfield, switch hit and power potential fit well and allowed us to maneuver around with Joe quite a bit and also helped us as a fill-in in the outfield. He's certainly comfortable in right.''
Doumit played 22 games in the outfield -- 16 left, six in right -- and made one start at first base. He doesn't feel comfortable at first and has not worked there this spring but continues to take fly balls in the outfield. He appears to be more comfortable in right field than left, but manager Ron Gardenhire wants to address that during spring training.
"We used Doumit in a lot of different ways,'' Gardenhire said. ''My preference with Doumit is catching and DH-ing, spot play in left field every once in a while when [Josh] Willingham is beat up. I put him out there a couple times last year.
"That's not his best position. He's more comfortable in right, but I'm not more comfortable with him in right field. I think left field is a better place for him to play. But I like him as my catcher-DH.''
Doumit entered Saturday with two hits in 10 at-bats, including a home run, but went 0-for-3 during a 2-1 loss to Boston. He is scheduled to catch when the Twins face Tampa Bay on Sunday. But expect him to play a few spring-training games in the outfield.
Aware of how his role could change this season, Doumit spent the offseason preparing to play in the outfield.
"My preparation was a little different, knowing I could be playing a little outfield, running around a little more,'' Doumit said. "So I did a little more agility work than I did in the past. It has been about bulk, being a catcher, but not as much this year. Try to get a little quicker in case I need to be a guy in the outfield.''