Molitor juggling playing time for backup catchers

Molitor juggling playing time for backup catchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's going to continue to find ways to get playing time for John Ryan Murphy, Chris Gimenez and Mitch Garver as they compete for the backup catcher role behind starter Jason Castro.

Castro started the Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Friday with Garver serving as his backup, while Murphy was behind the plate in the Twins' 8-7 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday. Gimenez, who offers versatility because of experience at first base, third base and outfield, made his first appearance of the spring as a first baseman instead of catcher on Saturday. Murphy went 1-for-3 with a run scored, but he couldn't handle a popup behind the plate, while Gimenez went 1-for-1 with a single.

"It gives me a chance to try to get at-bats and to see how comfortable we are with guys doing other things," Molitor said. "Gimenez has been very open with me, telling me he's ready for playing time whenever it fits."

Gimenez, a non-roster invite, will start at catcher with Trevor May on the mound on Sunday, however, as Castro's next start will be Monday, when projected Opening Day starter Ervin Santana starts against the Marlins.

Murphy has an advantage because he's on the 40-man roster, while Garver is more of a longshot because he's still a prospect and has yet to reach the Majors. Gimenez is helped by his versatility, strong numbers against lefties and the fact that chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine know him from his time with the Indians and Rangers. But Garver can also handle first, while Murphy's experience has been only at catcher in the Majors and a few games at third in the Minors.

Molitor, though, said it's unlikely he plays Garver at first much this spring, as they have other options such as Joe Mauer, Kennys Vargas, Byungho Park and Ben Paulsen.

"Garver can also go there too, but I'm not sure that'll happen because we have other people," Molitor said. "Hopefully we get into a flow into how and where we play people."

Worth noting

• Park continued his strong start to the spring with a solo homer in the second inning off Red Sox right-hander Roenis Elias. Park also had a sacrifice fly in the third, and he went 2-for-2 with a double on Friday. He's competing for the everyday designated hitter job with Vargas and Paulsen.

Park's solo home run

• Right-hander Tyler Duffey, one of several candidates competing for the final spot in the rotation, was efficient in his debut, needed only eight pitches to throw a scoreless third.

• Shortstop Nick Gordon, ranked as Minnesota's No. 1 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, made his spring debut, singling in his first at-bat.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.