La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame: Herrmann has a chance; Bartlett, ballgirls, bullpen

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 23, 2014 - 6:04 PM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said there are plenty of, ``moving parts,'' as the final roster decisions take place this week as Opening Day approaches.

And some decisions will be about parts that Gardenhire can move around the infield. Citing Tampa Bay as an example, Gardenhire wants as much flexibility with his bench as possible

``What we need is an interchangeable bench,'' he said. ``We need people who can play all over the place.''

That's why Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Escobar have played in the outfield and Chris Parmelee recently made a brief appearance in center field. The one player who could land a roster spot because of his flexibility is Chris Herrmann, who is batting .412 this spring. Herrmann can play the outfield, first base and catcher.

``Everyone forgets about his name,'' Gardenhire said. ``He's pretty good. He's an interchangeable part that we're discussing. His swing is better. He's gotten better all the way around.''

With Herrmann on the team, Gardenhire said he could use Josmil Pinto as a designated hitter at times.

``Would you like to see Pinto hit more?'' Gardenhire asked.

Twins fans certainly would. Pinto has some pop in his bat, And the Twins are batting .105 with runners in scoring position over their last seven games, We'll see if they pick it up this week, as teams approach these games with a little more gusto.

Jason Bartlett's comeback bid with the Twins could be over this week as the infielder could exercise an opt-out clause in his contract and become a free agent if it looks like he's not going to be on the Twins' Opening Day roster.

Bartlett said after Sunday's 5-1 loss to Philadelphia that he had not been told anything by the Twins. Meanwhile, several players across the league - including former Twin Jose Mijares  - activated similar clauses in their contracts over the weekend. Bartlett said he will consider all options before making  a decision, which could come Monday or Tuesday.

Bartlett was 1-for-2 on Sunday, raising his spring batting average to .088. He's played second, short, third and all three outfield positions during camp and has not looked out of place as he's switched gloves. He did look overwhelmed at the plate when games began but the quality of his at-bats improved with time

``I know I haven't made it easy for them to make a decision,'' Bartlett said. ``I haven't been raking but I know they like the leadership.''

Bartlett has felt great, physically, as he's returning to action for the first time since May of 2012 because of a right knee that required surgery in June of that year. He signed a minor league deal with the Twins in November that pays him $1 million if he makes the team.

Etc.

Even Gardenhire chuckled in the sixth inning when Brian Dozier hit a hard grounder inside the third base bag for a sure double. The ball was fair but rolled over the foul line, where it was scooped up by a ballgirl who then flipped the ball to a fan in the stands. Dozier wound up with a ground rule double. ``You had to laugh,'' Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said that all remaining relievers in camp will be available for every game this week. Some relievers will pitch in back-to-back games, to prepare them for regular-season duty.

FYI, the great John Gordon will call the first inning of Wednesday's game against Pittsburgh. Gordo lives down here year-round now.

8:10 PM ET123456789RHE
MinnesotaT. Milone (0-1)000
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Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
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NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
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Tampa Bay 2 Bottom 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
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