Report From The Fort: Mulling Marwin's Ugly Spring
Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsFor his part, Gonzalez says he is starting to feel better at the plate following his late start.
"I've been seeing the pitches better and slowing down the game," he said on Wednesday. "That's a good thing."
His results offensively haven't necessarily been reflective. Through Friday, Gonzalez had managed three singles and two walks in 24 plate appearances, to go along with nine strikeouts (39%). It'd be nice to see him build some sort of momentum heading into the season, given that the switch hitter figures to play a pivotal role in the middle of the Twins' lineup.
For what it's worth, the 30-year-old Gonzalez was slow to get going at the plate last year, posting a .217/.291/.321 in April and May before turning it around with an .805 OPS the rest of the way.
The greater concern right now might be his glove. To my eye, Gonzalez has not looked very good at third base. I've only been here to watch a handful of games – and in that time I've seen a lazily bounced throw, a misplayed hot grounder, and an extremely errant throw charged as an error – but people I've spoken to that've been around much longer haven't been particularly impressed either.
Asked how he feels about his defense at third relative to other positions, Gonzalez says he doesn't see much difference – "I think I can play in the infield, same level at all four (positions)," he opined – but his defensive metrics don't grade out particularly well with a -6.7 UZR/150 and -1 DRS in 576 career innings at the hot corner.
His manager expresses "nothing but full confidence in Marwin’s ability to play just about anywhere on the field."
"I don’t make judgments really in spring training at all, but watching the guy get his work in and watching his hands and watching his feet and watching his transfers and things like that, I think it’s easy to feel really good about him," said Rocco Baldelli.
Perhaps Baldelli is right. Maybe we shouldn't make anything out of Gonzalez's spring performance. After all, Lynn and Morrison both played quite well last spring after coming aboard. I remember being on hand for his dominant debut against the Orioles last year, when he finished Grapefruit League play with a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio and just one run allowed in seven innings. Morrison, in a more extended sample, hit .290/.353/.419 over 31 AB. Neither of those impressive showings portended any kind of regular-season success with the Twins.
So it's just another reminder to take spring results with a grain of salt. Still, Twins fans will be feeling a little more comfortable come Opening Day if Gonzalez shows a little more sharpness here down the final exhibition stretch.
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