Escobar makes strong case for shortstop

Versatile player looks impressive early in camp

Escobar makes strong case for shortstop

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Given his strong rookie year and the Twins' eagerness to move him back to his natural position of shortstop, Danny Santana remains the favorite to win the starting job this spring, but he is being pushed by Eduardo Escobar.

Escobar, who was the club's regular shortstop last year, isn't making the decision any easier for the Twins early in camp, as he's been solid so far, going 4-for-9 at the plate with a homer and a double in three games. Escobar, who is just 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, has surprising pop for his size, as evidenced by his 35 doubles in 133 games last year. Jhonny Peralta was the only shortstop in the Majors with more doubles than Escobar last season.

"He knows the situation, and it hasn't affected him in the least," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's had some good at-bats here early in camp. He's a little man who can drive the ball a little bit."

Santana, who hit .319/.353/.472 with 20 stolen bases in 101 games as a rookie, played mostly out of position last year in center field. But he's played exclusively at shortstop this spring, and it's a position the Twins would like to see him stick at. Escobar could head to a super utility role if Santana wins the job, which would at least give the Twins depth up the middle and a solid player on the bench.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.