Trio to share third base duties
Lamb's struggles force Gardenhire to make changes
MINNEAPOLIS -- It appears that the playing time of struggling Twins third baseman Mike Lamb will continue to dwindle.Manager Ron Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game against Washington that he will decide who plays third base on a day-to-day basis. The trio he has to choose from includes Lamb and a pair of rookies, Matt Macri and Brian Buscher. Gardenhire said that the decision would be predicated on statistics and who is swinging well at the time. "Taking a chance and seeing what happens," Gardenhire said. "I think it's going out there and trying to put somebody out there who you think will get it done that day. Today, I think Buscher has a good chance and we'll see what happens. Tomorrow, it might be somebody different. Today, I think Buscher. Yesterday, I thought Macri." All of which is not good news for Lamb, a veteran who signed a two-year contract in the offseason as a free agent. Lamb's defense has always been viewed as subpar, but this year his offense has also been below average. He is hitting .224 with only one home run. In the last two years with Houston, he hit .289 and .307, respectively. Lamb was slated for an everyday role when he signed, a position he hasn't been used in much in the past. The only time he has had more than 400 at-bats in a season was in 2000, his rookie campaign with the Texas Rangers. "Lamb is a veteran, [he has] done roles more than playing every day," Gardenhire said. "It's been a little bit of a struggle for him. I'll see what Buscher does here for a little bit, but I'm still going to mix them all in as best as I can." Gardenhire hasn't seen much of Buscher, but said the rookie has swung well in batting practice. He compares Buscher to Lamb offensively, in that they are spray hitters that use the entire park. The manager said he doesn't have to settle on one guy, meaning the third base position could be a super-platoon into the foreseeable future. "I've not put him as a utility guy around here or a backup," Gardenhire said of Lamb. "If Lamb has had success against a guy, I will put him out there. That might help him out, we'll see." Macri has hit .345 with one home run in 29 at-bats this year. Buscher has hit .255 with two home runs in 98 career at-bats over two seasons. He was also with the team at the end of the 2007 season.
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.