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Article: Ryan LaMarre Just Might Make Twins Opening Day Roster

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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:05 PM

FORT MYERS - When the Twins signed outfielder Ryan LaMarre in late November, it was a ho-hum minor league signing. A quick look at his Baseball-Reference page shows that he’s a solid outfielder who has had a couple of brief cups of coffee in the big leagues. But he’s one of many similar players who sign minor league contracts each offseason.

Yet here we are, less than a week from Opening Day and Ryan LaMarre is still in camp. After going 2-4 on Saturday night in Sarasota, LaMarre is hitting a robust .487 with a 1.307 OPS.The Twins outfield appears set. In reality, it’s been set for about two years. Ryan LaMarre knew that when he signed. But after a conversation with Twins minor league director Jeremy Zoll, he felt that this was the right place for him to sign.

“I talked to Jeremy Zoll. He had some great things to say in terms of where he saw me fitting in, what he thought I could bring to the table. Obviously we’ve got Buck (Byron Buxton), Eddie (Rosario) and (Max) Kepler, so that’s pretty much set. Then Robbie (Grossman) and (Zack) Granite behind them, but behind them there wasn’t as much. So it was an opportunity to come in here and show what you can do.” LaMarre continued, “Also as you know, they use a lot of players throughout the year. There’s always going to be that opportunity. But I just really liked what he said about where I fit in, especially coming off of the injury I had last year, so it seemed like a good opportunity.”

Ryan LaMarre is not a star. The 29-year-old knows that. He understands that if he were to make the Twins roster, be it for Opening Day or later in the season, it will be as a backup. That’s just fine with him. By definition, Ryan LaMarre is a journeyman. He has played for three MLB clubs (and four organizations) in the last three years. In 2018, he joins his fifth organization, the Twins.

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LaMarre was the second-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 out of the University of Michigan. He worked his way up the ladder. He never hit over .300, but he always showed a good approach at the plate and a little bit of pop. He also plays strong defense. In August of 2015, he finally received the call he’d be waiting for his whole life.

The story of his first big league call up is pretty entertaining. LaMarre explains:

“I was with Cincinnati. I was in AAA. We were in Gwinnett, the Braves AAA team. I was having a decent year, but they were losing a lot of games. I was hot for about the last three weeks leading up to the series. Billy Hamilton was injured. They ended up calling up someone else on the team.”

Lamarre was disappointed, but got a motivational chat from his manager, “I was pretty close to the manager. I had played for him for two or three years. He called me in and said ‘Don’t worry. Just keep playing hard. September’s right around the corner. I know they didn’t call you up right here, but just keep playing.’

LaMarre went out onto the field to stretch, and as he tells it, “Within an hour, he (the manager) came running out to the field and said, ‘You’re going up! It’s four o'clock. I don’t have time to explain. You’ve got to pack your bag. You’ve got to go. You have a six o'clock flight out of Atlanta.’”

Imagine the excitement of getting that news, but now needing to leave the AAA ballpark, pack up your belonging from the hotel and rush to the airport to catch a flight that is less than two hours away.

“It was rush hour. I packed my bag and grabbed a bat boy who drove me to the airport. I didn’t even get there until an hour after it left, So I missed my flight. I remember calling the guy from the Reds and I was like, if this is it, I’ll rent a car. I’ll be there by the 8th or 9th inning somehow. They said ‘No, no, no. Just take it easy. It was so last minute, we understand. We’ll just get you a flight tomorrow morning. If you miss that, don’t even bother showing up.’

A positive message, yet also pretty direct. LaMarre heard it, “So I stayed that night at the airport, and then I got on a flight the next day.”

It was an exciting time Ryan LaMarre and those close to him. “My family was super excited. My wife was my girlfriend at the time. She was very excited. They were all excited. They came into Cincinnati for the weekend. It was fun.”

LaMarre played in 21 games over the season’s final six weeks. He was used primarily as a defensive replacement and got just 25 at-bats.

Following the season, he was DFAd and signed a minor league free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox. In late June of 2016, he was called up and got five at-bats (no hits) in five games played. He actually played in one more game, on July 2nd. The Red Sox were losing 21-3 to the Angels, and LaMarre threw a scoreless ninth inning. He gave up two hits, but the final out of the inning came off the bat of Gregorio Petit who also remains on the Twins spring training roster.

Following the 2016 season, LaMarre was let go by the Red Sox and signed a minor league deal with the Angels. In late April, he was traded to Oakland. He was immediately called up to the A’s and played in three games (0-7) before being sent down. He remained in AAA until a mid-June injury cost him the rest of his season.

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The Twins signed LaMarre in late November, 2017. He began to rehab last July and was cleared in October. About that same time, he was getting married to his wife Whitney who is a Minnesota native. Because of his injury and rehab, they spent the majority of their offseason in Florida, but he says he could see himself living in the Twin Cities.

He noted with a smile, “That wouldn’t be a bad place to play for awhile.”
It might be even more cool for his wife and her family for LaMarre to make the Twins roster in 2018. “It would be amazing. She obviously represents her family. Her parents are from Minneapolis. Her dad was down here and he got to meet Rod (Carew) and Tony (Oliva), and for him, those were the guys he looked up to as a kid. So it would be special. It’d be a fun time.”

LaMarre’s big league track record hasn’t been strong, but it’s also been a very small sample size. Paul Molitor was asked how he takes past history into account with spring success.

“You try to know these guys’ history, but you hear about swing changes and other things he’s been doing. He’s had a nice camp. He can play around the outfield. I think he plays the outfield well. He’s been taking good at-bats all spring. He’ll swing and miss some, but he’s got that opposite field power that we’ve seen more than once. He’s got a little bit of that hockey player mentality.”

Makes sense since LaMarre played hockey in his younger years. Another reason it makes sense for Ryan LaMarre to make the Twins roster in 2018, is to be part of the State of Hockey. And, with the hopes and expectations of the Twins and their fans for 2018, maybe he can help make it more of a State of Baseball again.

For LaMarre, he’s happy to be a part of this year’s Twins organization and sees it as a special place. “It’s been fun. It’s an awesome group of guys. The coaches are amazing. The manager. The hitting coach. Everyone’s pulling in the right direction. This is a good place to be right now.”

And on Thursday, Baltimore would be a great place for Ryan LaMarre to be for his first Opening Day. The odds were long six weeks ago (even two weeks ago), but it just might happen.

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#2 old nurse

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:11 PM

They might want Granite to be playing every day to start the season.

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#3 Rosterman

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:34 PM

If possible, I would want Granite playing everyday.

 

But you still need a 40-man spot. And, in some ways, he seems redundant of Robbie Grossman. One or the other, but not both.

 

And we still need to deal with Kennys Vargas!

 

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#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:43 PM

Granite may (or may not) wind up on the DL with his shoulder contusion.

 

Vargas may be put right back on waivers in hopes of getting him to Rochester. 

 

Lamarre may still end up in Rochester.

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#5 Danchat

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:44 PM

This situation reminds me of Sean Burroughs in 2012. I remember he was a longshot for the roster but had a good Spring Training and was able to make the team. He then ended up getting 2 hits in 18 PAs and was DFA'd and never showed up in the majors again. LaMarre would likely end up doing something similar... it's not like he's going to be getting many PAs.

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#6 mikelink45

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:53 PM

Does he make us better?If not forget the nice story.I would like to be rooting for the underdog, but this is when the Twins build towards a WS.I would rather have Lamonte Wade if we are going to have an extra outfielder.But Vargas makes more sense. 

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#7 Vanimal46

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:59 PM

This is probably going to read in a negative way....

I'm not interested in cute spring training stories. This organization should be beyond that point.

If LaMarre can make an impact better than other players, great! There's nothing in his past history that indicates he'll be better than Grossman or the other bench players.
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#8 Seth Stohs

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:20 PM

 

This situation reminds me of Sean Burroughs in 2012. I remember he was a longshot for the roster but had a good Spring Training and was able to make the team. He then ended up getting 2 hits in 18 PAs and was DFA'd and never showed up in the majors again. LaMarre would likely end up doing something similar... it's not like he's going to be getting many PAs.

 

Well, that's fun... 

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#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:20 PM

 

Does he make us better?If not forget the nice story.I would like to be rooting for the underdog, but this is when the Twins build towards a WS.I would rather have Lamonte Wade if we are going to have an extra outfielder.But Vargas makes more sense. 

 

Why would they want Lamonte Wade to play once or twice a week. And he's left-handed, so it doesn't work with the platoon. LaMarre bats right handed at least. 

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#10 jkcarew

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:33 PM

Where would the roster spot come from? Grossman has been as good against left-handed pitching in the majors (or better) as LaMarre has been in the minors. Meanwhile, Grossman actually is a year younger than LaMarre. Weaken your bench 5 or 6 days a week so that you can have a better defender in a corner outfield spot one or two days a week?
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#11 slash129

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:34 PM

There is no reason to burn an option and 40-man turn on Lamonte Wade. He has value down the line. This is where a player like Lamarr adds perfect value. I'm not expecting the unearthing of an all-star, but the timing of his hot streak does add current value. If anything, it pushes Grossman. The Vargas situation is an isolated, head-scratching situation otherwise.

#12 Vanimal46

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:38 PM

There is no reason to burn an option and 40-man turn on Lamonte Wade. He has value down the line. This is where a player like Lamarr adds perfect value. I'm not expecting the unearthing of an all-star, but the timing of his hot streak does add current value. If anything, it pushes Grossman. The Vargas situation is an isolated, head-scratching situation otherwise.


Who's being bumped from the 40 man for LaMarre?

#13 Homer Hanky

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 10:26 PM

can't LaMarre take Polanco's spot?

 


#14 Danchat

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 10:33 PM

 

can't LaMarre take Polanco's spot?

Once they DFA Vargas again, yes.

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#15 sswen

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 10:57 PM

Good Iuck Ryan, I hope it works out for ya. I always like a feel good story about someone coming from out of nowhere to win a job!!

 

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#16 3balls2strikes

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 11:38 PM

LaMarre has worked hard and played extremely well in spring training while Grossman has performed poorly and made strange comments in interviews like he only needs ten at bats in spring training to be ready for the regular season. Grossman has had way more than ten at bats so far and the 0-fers he keeps putting up indicate he's not anywhere near ready for the regular season. I generally like Grossman, but LaMarre has clearly outplayed him. I like players earning their roster spot in fair and open competition. I don't like players farting around in spring training and coasting because they think they have a roster spot secured. I'd like to see the Twins give LaMarre a roster spot and reinforce the message to all players that hard work and production will be rewarded no matter who you are.

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#17 jud6312

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 11:42 PM

Enough of the touchy feely sunshine and unicorn fart stories.

 

Best 25 players and that's it. If this guy is one of the best 25 they've got, this team is in for a long, disappointing year.

 

I look at his minor league stats and I don't even see a AAAA player - I see a career minor leaguer.

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#18 jud6312

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 11:43 PM

 

Well, that's fun... 

Reality isn't always fun. And his track record - in MLB and recent stops at AAA don't indicate any different than the Burroughs example.


#19 3balls2strikes

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 12:26 AM

 

I look at his minor league stats and I don't even see a AAAA player - I see a career minor leaguer.

Molitor indicates that LaMarre has made swing changes that have lead to his spring training success. That's exactly what JD Martinez and Logan Morrison have done recently. If LaMarre is producing now, it doesn't matter what his historical stats are. What he's doing NOW is what the Twins should look at to make their decision. The guy is batting almost .500 in a healthy number of spring training at bats. That's incredible and not something easily dismissed. Sometimes a tiny adjustment or whatever just makes it click for a player.

 

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#20 twinstalker

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:23 AM

I think it's pretty simple. Team needs a rh OF to go with rh DH/OF Grossman, and we can get rid of Vargas, whom we know a lot about. There's this guy in camp who is mashing it and fills that role. Why wouldn't you go with the hot streak until it proves out otherwise?

 

There is nothing about Granite that is helpful, other than as a backup to Buxton, and the Twins can survive the one game until Granite gets called up to replace an injured Buxton.

 

If Vargas is the argument here, and you don't think there are AAAA guys available all over the place who can do as much or more than him, then I'm not sure what to say. My guess, though, is that if Vargas were with another organization and made available to us, that argument wouldn't exist.

 

The love for Vargas and Granite on here baffles me.

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