Escobar Impressing at SS
That hasn't stopped the 25-year-old from going out and playing like he's trying to win a job. And that he might.
After delivering a key two-run single in the seventh inning of Sunday's exhibition match-up against Miami, Escobar is batting .333 this spring, with three extra-base hits in 24 at-bats.
Meanwhile, the players he's competing with have lagged behind. Jason Bartlett is hitless in 23 at-bats and Doug Bernier is hitting .200 in limited playing time. Escobar has easily cemented himself as the top candidate for a backup infield gig, and he may be playing his way toward a potential starting assignment out of the gates.
Pedro Florimon has been easing into action in minor-league games after missing a couple weeks due to an emergency appendectomy. He's viewed as the favorite to start at shortstop but his hold on that job is tenuous at best since he hasn't shown much with the bat in the past.
Escobar hasn't proven to be a superior hitter in the majors, but he also hasn't had the chance to settle into a regular position.
Last year, after being demoted from the Twins with a .214 average in July, he hit .307/.380/.500 in 43 games at Rochester, and then batted .324 after returning to the majors as a September call-up. So his momentum stretches back beyond the nice spring he's enjoying.
Florimon is expected to return to the Twins' lineup Monday. If he looks sharp in the field and decent at the plate over these next couple weeks he'll probably be the club's starting shortstop in Chicago on March 31st. Ron Gardenhire seems committed to getting a long look at the athletic defensive whiz, and Escobar's defensive versatility makes him more attractive as a utility man.
But the Twins need offense and they know it. If Escobar proves himself to be the superior threat at the plate as March fades into April, he could very well knock Florimon from his precarious perch atop the depth chart.