Grossman expected to be DH in short term

Grossman expected to be DH in short term

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the decision to carry 13 pitchers to open the season, Robbie Grossman will serve as the Twins' de facto designated hitter, but manager Paul Molitor said he doesn't expect it to be a long-term role for Grossman.

Grossman is coming off a solid season offensively, leading the Twins in on-base percentage with a .280/.386/.443 slash line in 99 games. But the switch-hitter fared much better against lefties, batting .344/.418/.576 against them compared to .242/.367/.362 against right-handers.

Grossman, though, was still in the lineup against Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy on Wednesday, but instead of hitting second like he did in the opener, he batted ninth, as Molitor said he'll move Grossman around based on matchups.

"Robbie is going to get an opportunity to play early because we went with the extra pitcher," Molitor said. "It's good for him. His performance last year warrants playing time."

Grossman, 27, doesn't have much experience as a DH with 20 games there, including 17 last season. But he said he's ready to embrace the role, and it doesn't change his mentality.

"I'm just up there trying to have productive at-bats," Grossman said.

But with ByungHo Park and Kennys Vargas looming as potential DH options depending on how they fare at Triple-A Rochester, Grossman isn't likely to be the everyday DH all season. Park was the club's best player in Spring Training, but was surprisingly left off the roster and still isn't on the 40-man roster. Vargas, though, is on the 40-man.

"Is Robbie Grossman going to DH 150 games this year? I don't think it's very likely," Molitor said. "It's a position that if we can get someone the majority of the games, it might be a good thing, but I can't tell you who that's going to be right now."

Molitor said he also plans to use the DH to rest players such as first baseman Joe Mauer, and that it could rotate a bit based on matchups.

"A lot of clubs use it to rest players," Molitor said. "There aren't a lot of David Ortiz or Kendrys Morales types out there. It gives you flexibility. That's why versatile players help you."

WORTH NOTING

• Starting shortstop Jorge Polanco, who went 2-for-3 on Opening Day, wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday, but Molitor said not to read too much into it, as he wanted to get Eduardo Escobar in a game at shortstop early in the year. He wants his backups to get into games early, and backup catcher Chris Gimenez is likely to catch Ervin Santana on Sunday.

• Molitor said he's not a fan of the new intentional walk rule that allows a manager to signal for an automatic intentional walk. The Royals used it against Brian Dozier, loading the bases on Monday, but it backfired with Grossman drawing a go-ahead RBI walk.

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.