Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Escobar works at catcher, impresses in infield

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: March 13, 2013 - 4:35 PM

FORT MYERS, FLA. -- Ron Gardenhire shook hands with Alexi Casilla as the former infielder walked by a little while ago. Then he discussed his own infield, which sounds eerily similar to those that Casilla played in: A lot of maybes.

Gardenhire tends to drop hints into his answers about players, so it was interesting to hear him discuss his options at third base if Trevor Plouffe -- out for a few days with a strained calf -- is injured again during the regular season. "It would be one of the utility guys right now, [like Jamey] Carroll," Gardenhire said of Plouffe's backup. Then he mentioned another utility candidate, Eduardo Escobar, but added a telling caveat. "Escobar, but if he's playing every day, we'd figure out somebody else."

Maybe it's overthinking it. Or maybe Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon aren't so secure in the middle of the infield. Gardenhire went out of his way to compliment the 24-year-old Venezuelan, acquired from Chicago in the Francisco Liriano trade last July. "He's playing really well. Wherever I put him, he's playing really well," Gardenhire said. "So we'll just figure out what happens with the rest of them, and plug him in wherever we need to as we go along in the spring."

Something to keep in mind, anyway. Escobar is batting .367 this spring, has more hits (11) than anyone but Aaron Hicks, and is a smooth fielder. Florimon is at .222, Dozier at .226, for what that's worth. Admittedly, one 0-for-3 and 3-for-4 day, and their stats would reverse.

Escobar spent a half-hour this afternoon catching pitches from a pitching machine, getting ready for the grand super-utility experiment. It's clear Gardenhire is considering Escobar as an emergency catcher, on hand only in case Joe Mauer or Ryan Doumit get hurt during a game. That would free up a roster spot, the one held last year by Drew Butera, for a stronger pinch-hitter, which definitely appeals to the manager. "Another catcher is only a phone call away," he said. "He would only have to get you through nine innings, or whatever."

A couple of other notes:

-- Deolis Guerra was transferred to Tampa General Hospital today, in preparation for surgery to remove the first rib on his right side. That should give the artery more room, and the Twins hope will prevent further blood clots. No word yet on when the surgery will take place.

-- Justin Morneau is back from the World Baseball Classic, and sounds eager to get back to work. Had a good time, he said, and "I'll always remember" the moment when he was facing the USA battery of Glen Perkins and Joe Mauer.

-- As expected, Chris Parmelee is back in the lineup after a week off with a groin strain. Gardenhire is also still feeing Oswaldo Arcia at-bats before he heads to minor-league camp.

-- Kyle Gibson will pitch in relief today, after throwing in the bullpen on Monday. He lost his start to the Twins' off day on Tuesday. Gardenhire said the Twins will arrange their rotation in order after next Tuesday's off day, so we should know who the Opening Day starter is in a week. By my math, it's whoever starts on Friday, March 22, which would keep him on rotation to face Justin Verlander on April 1.

Tonight's lineups for a Fireworks Night game with the Orioles, who are starting three former Twins:

Orioles: Alexi Casilla 2B, Ryan Flaherty SS, Manny Machado 3B, Jason Pridie LF, Taylor Teagarden C, Travis Ishikawa 1B, Danny Valencia DH, Chris Dickerson RF, Trayvon Robinson CF. LHP Brian Matusz P.

Twins: Aaron Hicks CF, Brian Dozier 2B, Josh Willingham LF, Justin Morneau 1B, Ryan Doumit C, Chris Parmelee RF, Oswaldo Arcia DH, Eduardo Escobar 3B, Pedro Florimon SS. Kevin Correia P, followed by Casey Fien, Kyle Gibson, Josh Roenicke, Caleb Thielbar and Anthony Slama.
 

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St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
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Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota 0 Top 4th Inning
Baltimore 0
Philadelphia 1 Bottom 5th Inning
NY Mets 0
Miami 3 Top 5th Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 0 Top 4th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Cleveland 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Kansas City 0
Detroit 2 Top 4th Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Texas 0 Top 5th Inning
Houston 0
Colorado 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Arizona 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Top 1st Inning
St. Louis 0
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BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
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Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
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UCF 24
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UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
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(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 Delayed 9:55
(6) Auburn 38
(16) Clemson 21 3rd Qtr 3:45
(12) Georgia 24
Liberty 15 3rd Qtr 9:55
(23) North Carolina 21
Ohio U 14 3rd Qtr 1:05
Kent State 7
Louisiana Tech 0 2nd Qtr 9:00
(4) Oklahoma 24
Stephen F Austin 7 2nd Qtr 6:57
(20) Kansas State 21
Fresno State 0 1st Qtr 0:26
(15) USC 21
Southern Miss 0 1st Qtr 2:05
Miss State 7
Texas-El Paso 7 1st Qtr 11:16
New Mexico 0
North Texas 0 1st Qtr 8:37
Texas 0
(1) Florida State 0 1st Qtr 12:09
Oklahoma State 0
Idaho 0 Delayed
Florida 0
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 1st Half 15:00
Montreal 0
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 34 3rd Qtr 8:45
Indiana 42
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