Parmelee, out of options, working diligently this spring
Gardy impressed with right fielder's hot start, set to give him a look at first base
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in recent years.
In 2012, Parmelee hit .261/.350/.536 with five homers, two doubles and 13 RBIs in 23 games, and he ended up making the trip north with the Twins after an impressive showing as a September callup the year before. Last spring, Parmelee hit .296/.387/.426 with one homer, four doubles and three RBIs in 20 games to again make the club out of Spring Training.
But this year, Spring Training looms even larger for Parmelee, who is now out of Minor League options and can't be sent to Triple-A Rochester without being placed on waivers.
Parmelee is off to a hot start through his first four games, hitting .300/.417/.600 with a homer and three RBIs, and is doing his best not to focus on the upcoming roster decision later this month, which is essentially out of his hands.
"I'm feeling really good," Parmelee said. "It's just Spring Training, but I'm just trying to see the ball and put a good swing on it. Everybody is here to knock the rust off from the offseason. Obviously, it's a plus if you do well and if you can keep it rolling into the season. It's a confidence booster, but everybody here is really just trying to knock off that rust."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's noticed a difference in Parmelee so far this spring, and the skipper doesn't believe Parmelee's putting too much pressure on himself. He's been playing Parmelee mostly in right field, but penciled him in for his first start at first base on Thursday against the Cardinals before the game was cancelled due to rain.
"He's playing well and swinging well no matter where I put him," Gardenhire said. "He has a shorter swing. He has a different look in his eyes right now. He's not worried about anything and is just going out and playing and having fun."
Parmelee, 26, burst onto the scene in '11, when the former first-rounder hit .355/.443/.592 with four homers, six doubles and 14 RBIs in 21 games as a September callup.
But he couldn't follow that up as a rookie in '12, when he hit .229/.290/.380 with five homers, 10 doubles and 20 RBIs in 64 games. Parmelee, though, had an excellent year at Triple-A Rochester that season, hitting .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers and 17 doubles in 64 games, so the Twins still had high hopes he'd bounce back in '13.
Parmelee began last season as the club's starting right fielder, but struggled again with a similar line to '12, batting .228/.309/.354 with eight homers, 13 doubles and 24 RBIs in 101 games.
But Parmelee believes he's better than what he's shown, and has made it a point to get extra instruction this spring with coaches such as Tom Brunansky, Paul Molitor and special instructors such as Hall of Famer Rod Carew and former manager Tom Kelly.
Parmelee, who lives in his native Southern California during the offseason, also spent time working with Brunansky on his hitting over the winter, but he missed time late in the offseason after having a ganglion cyst removed from his right wrist in January.
He's also been working with Molitor and Kelly at first base, as he could still be used as a backup there, even though Joe Mauer will be the club's everyday first baseman this season.
"I've been doing early work with TK and Molly with some of the infielders on the small field," Parmelee said. "And on the trips I don't make, I've been staying back and taking grounders."
Parmelee understands what's at stake now that he's out of Minor League options, but is doing his best to simply relax and not worry about what he can't control.
"I'm just trying to go out and have fun," Parmelee said. "I want to win some ballgames. The last couple years have been tough. So it starts here and it starts now. Hopefully, we can win a lot of games here and keep it rolling into April."