Parmelee prepping for center field, just in case

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2013 - 11:34 PM
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Twins right fielder Chris Parmelee

Photo: Tony Dejak, Associated Press

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When the Twins first scouted Chris Parmelee, he was the center fielder for Chino Hills (Calif.) High School. That also was the last time Parmelee played that position.

Parmelee might have to relive his prep days. He has begun taking fly balls in center field before games in case he is needed to play there in a pinch. With Darin Mastroianni (stress reaction in left foot) still a few weeks away and Aaron Hicks battling a sore elbow, the Twins needed a backup in case something happens to Wilkin Ramirez, who is starting in place of Hicks. Hicks hit in the cage on Sunday and is close to returning.

“If worse came to worst and I had to go out there, I want to be prepared,” Parmelee said. “I just want to get out there, take some fly balls and be prepared if need be.”

Parmelee has earned high marks from manager Ron Gardenhire from his play in right field. Parmelee has three outfield assists and made an excellent diving catch during the Twins’ victory over Baltimore on Saturday. On Sunday, he played Nick Markakis’ double off the right field wall perfectly and hit cutoff man Brian Dozier in time for Dozier to throw out Chris Snyder at home plate.

That was the 14th outfield assist by the Twins this season. They entered Sunday tied for the major league lead in that category.

“I think he’s been great,” Gardenhire said of Parmelee. “I think he moves really well out there. He works so hard at it. He takes a lot of balls off the wall. He’s playing the ball off the wall and making accurate throws.”

Parmelee also has been working with hitting coach Tom Brunansky to help get the bat head out quicker. Parmelee has worked the count well but is batting .214 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

“I know it will come,” Parmelee said. “I’m not worried about it.

Rest day

Righthander Jared Burton was given Sunday off after he pitched the previous three days. It was only the fourth time in six-plus seasons that Burton was used three days in a row and the first time since Oct. 2-4, 2009.

The Twins were careful with Burton last season because he was coming off shoulder surgery in 2011 while with the Reds. Burton responded with his best season, posting a 2.18 ERA with five saves. He has a 1.69 ERA in 17 appearances this season.

Quick exit

Baltimore’s Adam Jones hit a home run in the third inning that was on a rope. The ball hit the railing in the lower deck and ricocheted straight up to the second deck. It led Dustin Morse, the Twins’ director baseball communications, to announce, “estimated distance, 350 [feet] AND 380.”

Chen leaves early

Orioles lefthander Wei-Yin Chen rolled into the fifth inning with a shutout — and left because of an injury scare.

Chen walked off the field after the fifth inning, grabbing his side. He was replaced by Tommy Hunter, and the Orioles announced at the time that Chen had a strained right oblique muscle. But the club backed away from that after the game, saying it was only a cramp and that he will be re-evaluated Monday.

All the Twins know is that Chen seemed to be in pain when he left the field.

“We heard him on the mound yelling after the fifth inning,” Gardenhire said.

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