8 June 20102

The Minnesota Twins have the worst record in the American League, and they have been below .500 since Opening Day.

However, outside of Jason Marquis, released from the roster after going 2-4 with an 8.37 ERA, the team's offseason acquisitions have proved to be valuable.

Left fielder Josh Willingham leads the team with 11 homers and 39 RBI.

Closer Matt Capps, re-signed as a free agent, has converted 14 of 15 save opportunities, giving him one fewer save than he had all last season.

Right-hander Jared Burton has been terrific in the bullpen, too, with 26 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.

And, most of all, don't forget shortstop Jamey Carroll.

The Twins signed Carroll to a two-year, $ 6.75 million contract after fielding an anomalously bad infield in 2011, hoping he would be the starting shortstop.

Instead, he has played short, third and second, and he's played each position extremely well. Technically without a permanent position, Carroll, 38, is nevertheless an everyday player.

When the Twins decided to call Brian Dozier up from Class AAA Rochester for his first major league action, they moved Carroll to second.

When third baseman Danny Valencia was sent back to Rochester because he was hitting .190, they moved Carroll to third.

No matter where Carroll has played, he's been effective.

" He handled that very, very well," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. " He's handled everything else we've thrown at him. He knows how to play, no matter where we put him."

Over 10 major league seasons, Carroll has played every position but first base and catcher, and he'd like to try those – though he has enough on his plate these days.

On the just-completed road trip through Cleveland and Kansas City, he started four games at third and two at second, and he played both in a 7-4 victory over the Indians last Saturday.

Carroll has started 28 games at short, 13 at third and 12 at second and has one error at each in 58 games." He's one-of-a-kind," Dozier said. " You can throw tools out the window, anything physical – he plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. I think a lot of times these days you see a lot of people not doing that."

His offense hasn't been shabby, either.

After going 1-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the Royals, he's batting .241, is second on the team with 22 walks, has scored 22 runs and has driven in 17.

His .324 on-base percentage is fourth among Twins with at least 180 at-bats, giving Gardenhire a No. 9 hitter who can actually complement the top of the order.

Still, the Twins signed Carroll primarily for his glove, and he hasn't disappointed.

Wherever Gardenhire sticks him, Carroll catches the ball and gets guys out.

I think his best tool, I guess you could call it, is he knows the game inside and out. Anybody will tell you that," Dozier said. " He's always in the right place at the right time, he always does the things right. He pays attention to the little things that have enabled him to play 10 years in the big leagues.

" He's definitely one of the best, in my opinion."

Who would have thought playing infield can take such a toll on a player’s hands ?

We all know middle infielders take a ton of abuse to their legs throughout the years with guys sliding into second and taking them out, but Jamey Carroll has given us an entirely new meaning for the term “ seasoned veteran.”

Just look at that meat hook attached to the end of his right arm.

The 38-year-old Twins infielder has bounced around from team to team throughout his 10-year career, and apparently every ground ball he took with those teams made his hand into an uglier collection of skin and bone.

“ I’m not going to be a hand model when I’m done, that’s for sure,” Carroll said according to The Pioneer Press. “ You deal with it and find a way to throw and get through it and keep going.”

What he means is his teammates find a way to deal with looking at it and keep moving forward.

Carroll says he made his son cry earlier this year by taking so long to pick up his first hit of the season. If his son can touch that hand or be around it at home, you would think he could handle any of life’s challenges that are thrown his way. 

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