MINNEAPOLIS When he reports to spring training later this month, Twins infielder Jamey Carroll will be 38 years old and likely the oldest player on the roster. Some of his new Minnesota teammates, such as outfielder Ben Revere, will be 15 years younger.But late last month, the veteran Carroll had the chance to meet most of his teammates, at TwinsFest. Despite spending 10 seasons with four major league teams, Carroll said he'd never seen an event quite like it.
"For me, it's a great opportunity. That's what you want to do, gel with your teammates as soon as you possibly can, to get that comfort level going in," Carroll said at TwinsFest. "This is a great way to do it. You're hanging out with these guys, and you're not in uniform. It's good to get this before the stress and tension of spring training starts, and the level of play starts picking up."Among the topics discussed by some of the Twins players that weekend was their diets. Outfielder Denard Span and first baseman Justin Morneau have both had to adjust theireating habitsfor various reasons Span is trying to recover from a concussion, while Morneau found out he's mildly allergic to gluten.Carroll, who turns 38 on Feb. 18, noted how his diet has evolved from his rookie season with Montreal in 2002 to today."It's an understanding of how you feel," Carroll said. "Because you're so active, you can get away with eating whatever you wanted and it'd burn off quick. But ice cream doesn't go away like it used to. So you have to start understanding. You start realizing what it's doing for you. I think if you want to be good at anything, you've got to do everything the right way, as best as you can. So (diet) has become important."The Twins are hoping Carroll can teach the younger players about more than just proper diets. Minnesota signed him this offseason to a two-year contract with a mutual option for a third year. The plan for now, at least is to plug Carroll into the starting shortstop role with the hope that he can fill a position that Minnesota struggled with defensively last year.Carroll has primarily been a second baseman during his 10-year career, playing 507 games there compared to just 207 at shortstop. But the versatile infielder is ready for the challenge ahead."To be honest with you, the last two years I've played more shortstop than any other position on a consistent basis," said Carroll, who spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I felt like I did a pretty good job over there, and there were a lot of teams calling that said that was (a) helpful (skill) in the free agent process. So, I take that as a confidence builder. I know I can do it, and I'd love to."Carroll admits he might not have much left in the tank when his current contract with the Twins runs out. He'll be 39 after next season, and 40 if his option is picked up for a third year. But like most players, Carroll hopes to stay in the game somehow.Currently, he's teaching his three-year-old son, Cole, how to swing a bat. Down the road, Carroll said he could possibly envision himself coaching on a larger scale."I feel like I've had an opportunity to play for a lot of good coaches and with a lot of good players, and it's going to be hard for me to go home and sit on what I've learned," Carroll said. "I love to talk about the game, I'd love to teach it; I don't know how good I'd be at that. But I also don't know what level I'd do it at. I've had these conversations, actually do I want to do the pro side or the college side? There are pros and cons to both. It depends on where I feel I am with my kids at that point."Until that point, Minnesota expects Carroll to shore up the middle infield. Despite being in the later stage of his career, Carroll also says he's capable of being that every-day shortstop. In 2011, he played in a career-high 146 games for the Dodgers."I'm just going to come in ready to play wherever they tell me to go, that's what I'll do," Carroll said. "I'm looking to win the shortstop job and try to play every day. That's always been my goal, and I don't think there's a guy in here who doesn't want to play every day. If he doesn't want to play every day, he's not going to be here. But it's ultimately get in here, show them what I'm capable of doing and letting Gardy and them make the decision."And like the rest of the Twins, he has one other goal in mind."I want a chance to get back to the playoffs," Carroll said.
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