3/1/2013 2:55 P.M. ET
Versatile Herrmann looking to help any way he can
Left-handed swinger could be No. 3 catcher or utility player
By Christina De Nicola / Special to MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Play video of the Sept. 16, 2012 Twins-White Sox game at Target Field and fast forward to the eighth inning.
Catcher Chris Herrmann, making his Major League debut by replacing Ryan Doumit as a defensive substitution, faced left-hander Donnie Veal in the bottom half of the frame. Though he grounded out to second for the final out, it couldn't keep a smile off his face.
"My first at-bat, it was funny," Herrmann said. "I stepped into the box and started to laugh almost because that's how excited I was. I was nervous, but I was happy and excited all at the same time."
The left-handed-hitting Herrmann drove in Justin Morneau on an RBI forceout to second in the fifth inning against the Indians three days later. On Sept. 26 off Yankees right-hander Cody Eppley, he beat out a grounder as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth.
During his late-season callup, Herrmann went 1-for-18 (.056) with one walk, one RBI and five strikeouts. He also started four games.
"It's really valuable," Herrmann said. "It just gives you a taste of what everything's like there. Learning how to control every situation, learning to slow everything down a little bit. I was anxious about everything -- hitting, catching. I'm just concentrating more and being patient. That comes along with being up there."
Though he worked with the catchers during intrasquad games at the University of Miami after transferring from Alvin Community College in Texas, he played left field for the Hurricanes. He hit .341 with nine home runs, 44 RBIs and 59 runs in 60 games.
When the Twins selected him in the sixth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, it was as a catcher.
It took a while for Herrmann to get back into the groove as a backstop, particularly with its difficulty and physical demands.
Not only does the catcher need to know what's going on at all times, but he is also looked upon as a leader on the field. Calling a game and knowing pitchers requires a lot of studying.
From five-time All-Star Joe Mauer, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has learned to slow the game down and try not to do too much when he's on the field.
Wherever the 25-year-old begins the 2013 season, he aims for a .300 batting average, a reputation as a catcher that pitchers like throwing to and helping a winning team.
"It's the same baseball game, it's just a different atmosphere," Herrmann said. "Obviously, it's the Major Leagues, but it's still the same game I've been playing since I was 5 years old. I still have to work on that. It's exciting to finally get that opportunity, but I just need to realize it's the same game as when I was a kid."
With Mauer (USA) and Drew Butera (Italy) leaving for the World Baseball Classic, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire plans on getting Herrmann more games behind the plate and in left field. He was 0-for-3 with a pair of walks in four Spring Training games entering Friday's contest with the Marlins.
His versatility is something the Twins organization likes about Herrmann.
In his four starts last year, two were at catcher, one at designated hitter and one in left field. On Thursday, he worked at first base with Tom Kelly, the legendary Twins manager and current assistant to the general manager.
"I look at players like that because you've got choices here whether you go with a direct third catcher or a guy who can move around and do other things," Gardenhire said. "He's in the mix. He's going to have a lot of gloves."
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.