Just a quick glance at how the three favorites for the center field position are faring this spring.
It's been an active competition so far this spring, as each of the candidates have had a little good to go with some bad. None of them are standing head-and-shoulders above the group, which isn't necessarily surprising. Let's take a look at their spring numbers to date.
Name Age AB 2B 3B HR BB SO SB Avg Obp Slg
Carlos Gomez 22 24 1 1 0 1 2 3 .167 .185 .292
Denard Span 24 15 1 0 0 4 0 3 .267 .450 .333
Jason Pridie 24 22 0 0 0 0 4 2 .273 .261 .273
Gomez has impressed in the field just as much as he's raised a questioning eyebrow, but management has expressed their excitement over him on more than one occasion. There's no doubt he has the range and the arm, as long as he gets it under control. Management has also encouraged his aggressive nature at the plate, so it stands to reason that mistakes (mental or physical) may be overlooked in lieu of all the promise. Offensively he has the least impressive line of the three contenders, but that speed is blinding.
Span's spring hasn't been disappointing, but he hasn't done enough to stand out from the crowd, either. In a recent interview he waxed philosophical about what the Twins are looking for in a lead-off hitter, saying that it wasn't about being a big bat, it was about scoring runs. That, and getting on base no matter what it took. Span has gotten on base, but all four walks he's taken thus far came in one game. If he can continue to work counts and can at least imply that taking a walk was more than a one-game affair, Denard Span won't be written off.
Pridie has flashed some leather this spring, and has about as many good plays under his belt as Gomez. His arm may not be as strong, but he hasn't had the errant throws either. At the plate he has yet to register an extra-base hit or a walk, but he'll have plenty of opportunity over the next two weeks to show what he an offer offensively. Pridie might have had a slight advantage over his competitors due to his age, skills, experience and history coming into the spring, but Denard Span won't be shaken loose and we've tasted the talents of Carlos Gomez.
This one won't be settled for a while.
Update [03-12-2008, 7:00 am]: Within hours of this post yesterday came some good additional material. Go here for a two-minute video clip on the center field gig, including comments from Jerry White, and then head over to MLB.com to read Kelly Theiser's piece on the competition, apparently already nailed down to Gomez and Span.