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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Molitor shuffling Twins defense in search of lineup flexibility

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today is “flexibility” day for Paul Molitor. Like all managers, Molitor wishes each of his players could play all nine positions on the diamond, for maximum flexibility, but he’s willing to settle for two or three positions. So today’s Twins lineup against the visiting Marlins features five players trotting out to a different spots than the last time they played.

    Drew Stubbs, a center fielder on Saturday, is in left field. Danny Santana, who has played right field and second base so far, is in center. Eduardo Escobar has played shortstop and Ahire Adrianza second base; today, they both will move one position to their right. It’s Adrianza’s first start at shortstop, though he finished the game there on Sunday. And J.B. Shuck moves over to right field, after trying left and center.

    Most important, today is Ervin Santana’s spring debut, the first chance to take a look at the Twins’ Opening Day starter. Santana told me Saturday that he’s ready for the season to start right now, that today’s 30-pitch limit isn’t necessary. “I’ve been throwing for a month already,” he said. “Feeling really good.”

    There aren’t many recognizable names in the lineup he’ll face today. With the World Baseball Classic approaching, MLB has loosened the guidelines that required visiting teams to bring a representative number of veterans on the road. Both the Nationals (on Sunday) and the Marlins had to take 2 1/2 hour bus rides to reach Hammond Stadium, a chore that no veterans were asked to shoulder.

    No radio or TV coverage today, giving you time to read the stories in this morning’s paper. I wrote about J.T. Chargois’ determination to forget his MLB debut ever happened, and about Mike Quade’s terrifying traffic accident, and his gratitude to a quartet of players who rushed to his aid. La Velle Neal wrote about Trevor May’s desire to rejoin the Twins’ rotation and the first step he took on Sunday; he also notes that Jose Berrios is hurrying to get ready for the WBC.

    Here are the lineups for the noon (CT) game:

MARLINS

 

Perez 2B

Hechavarria SS

Dietrich 1B

Telis C

Moore LF

Hood RF

Barnes CF

Rojas 3B

Aaron DH

 

Urena RHP

 

TWINS

 

Stubbs LF

D. Santana CF

Grossman DH

Park 1B

Castro C

Escobar 3B

Shuck RF

Field 2B

Adrianza SS

 

E. Santana RHP

Dozier (42 home run guy) is in the Twins lineup vs Washington

Yes indeed, Brian Dozier is in the lineup today as the Twins play host to the Nationals on a gorgeous day here in Fort Myers. This will be Dozier's spring training debut, leaving Joe Mauer as the only regular from last year to have not appeared in a game. Mauer is scheduled to play on Wednesday.

Before you start the Mauer bashing, he's not the only one. Camp is a little bit longer because of the World Baseball Classic, and some players are being eased into the schedule. Boston, for instance, is not playing some of its regulars until the middle of next week.

Jorge Polanco is back in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see how he responds after committing an error on Friday in the spring training opener. The Twins need to see Polanco progress as a shortstop, since he's not going to be playing second base anytime soon. There were a few disappointed Twins officials on Friday when Polanco skipped that throw to first base.

Since the Twins didn't add any impact players during the offseason, improvement has to come from within. Especially pitching and defense.

Hope you had a chance to read my story on pitching framing this morning. It's something teams have drilled their catchers on for years, but once pitch framing data became available there has been a greater emphasis on stealing strikes. What can't be measured, however, is human error. What if the umpire is having a bad day and misses five pitches that were obvious strikes? Should the catcher's framing stats be affected by that?

I didn't even get into how positioning by the catcher helps the umpire see the plate better. Umpires like to align themselves over the inside shoulder of the catcher, the area between the catcher and hitter is called the, 'slot'. Consequently, it can be difficult at times for them to see the outisde corner. But a catcher must position himself to help the ump see that part of the plate better. Insteresting stuff.

Nats

Michael Taylor, CF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Chris Heisey, LF
Clint Robinson, 1B
Stephen Drew, SS
Matt Skole, DH
Jose Lobaton, C
Brian Goodwin, RF
Corban Joseph, 2B
A.J. Cole, RHP


Twins

Byron Buxton, CF
Jorge Polanaco, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Migual Sano, 3B
Max Kepler, RF
Kennys Vargas, 1B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Chris Gimenez, C
Jason Castro, DH

Trevor May, RHP