Parmelee must stay patient as role changes

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Chris Parmelee was congratulated by third base coach Joe Vavra in the eighth inning after the first of his two home runs. Parmelee had three hits in the Twins’ 8-7 loss to Cleveland at Progressive Field.

Photo: David Richard, Associated Press

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– Chris Parmelee was in the starting lineup Saturday for only the third time in the past 10 games in which he’s appeared. It’s been tough for him to get on the field because of matchups and the presence of Oswaldo Arcia, who has excited the Twins with his potential.

Parmelee’s .222 batting average — to go with five homers and 14 RBI before Saturday’s game — hasn’t helped his case to remain in the lineup either.

Things don’t appear to be changing any time soon. Arcia is going to get at-bats in left field, right field or as the designated hitter. Ryan Doumit probably will start in right when the Twins play a brief interleague series at Miami next week. Justin Morneau is the first baseman as long as he’s with the club. Right field and first base are Parmelee’s positions.

“You have to accept whatever role you have and to be able to make adjustments as a player,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “For younger players, it’s not easy, and I’ve talked to him about that. Just to adjust to the role, keep your head up. When your name is in there, you play. The goal is winning baseball games in the major leagues. It’s about developing players, but also winning baseball games.”

Parmelee, 25, broke camp with the Twins as the starting right fielder. While his defense has been above average — he has six outfield assists — he has not gotten on track at the plate. He likes to be patient but has not capitalized when he gets a good pitch to hit.

With the Twins in Miami next week, Gardenhire wanted Parmelee to start Saturday so he won’t enter the Marlins series with a dull bat in case he’s needed to pinch hit. Parmelee made the most of his opportunity, collecting three hits and homering in consecutive at-bats in the eighth and ninth innings of an 8-7 loss.

“I just think he needs at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “It is hard to get them when other people are swinging good.”

Day off for ‘Hammer’

Josh Willingham’s left knee has been better in recent days, but he was given Saturday off anyway.

Gardenhire said he likely will start Willingham on Sunday, then let him enjoy the scheduled off day Monday before the two-game series in Miami begins Tuesday. Willingham received a cortisone shot in the knee June 15. After little initial relief, Willingham noticed improvement as the week went on. Gardenhire decided not to push it Saturday.

“It’s a good day for Willy, to shut him down,” Gardenhire said. “He said he’s great, which is a bonus.”

Arcia started in left Saturday.

Etc.

• Gardenhire said he plans to split up the leadoff spot between Clete Thomas and Brian Dozier. Thomas will start against righthanders and Dozier will start against lefthanders. “Both have done a nice job up there,” Gardenhire said. Dozier said after Friday’s game that he would like to lead off full-time. Gardenhire is aware of that but prefers to share the role for the time being.

•  Righthander Nick Blackburn is getting closer to real game action on his comeback trail from wrist surgery in January. He will throw in a simulated game Monday, and the Twins hope Blackburn will be ready to pitch for the GCL team soon after that. Blackburn has not pitched in a game since Sept. 2 of last year for Class AAA Rochester.

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