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Grossman working hard to improve defense

Outfielder's '16 offensive breakout tempered by uneven glove work
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In many ways, the Twins' signing of outfielder Robbie Grossman to a Minor League deal in mid-May of 2016 paid dividends, as the former top prospect had a breakout year offensively.

Grossman, the front-runner to be Minnesota's fourth outfielder this season, hit .280/.386/.443 with 11 homers, 19 doubles, 49 runs and 37 RBIs in 99 games, leading the team in on-base percentage. But defensively he struggled, especially late in the year, and his overall value was affected. Per Baseball-Reference.com's version of Wins Above Replacement, Grossman accumulated 2.4 WAR offensively, but it was negated by a -2.6 dWAR, which measures defensive capabilities.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In many ways, the Twins' signing of outfielder Robbie Grossman to a Minor League deal in mid-May of 2016 paid dividends, as the former top prospect had a breakout year offensively.

Grossman, the front-runner to be Minnesota's fourth outfielder this season, hit .280/.386/.443 with 11 homers, 19 doubles, 49 runs and 37 RBIs in 99 games, leading the team in on-base percentage. But defensively he struggled, especially late in the year, and his overall value was affected. Per Baseball-Reference.com's version of Wins Above Replacement, Grossman accumulated 2.4 WAR offensively, but it was negated by a -2.6 dWAR, which measures defensive capabilities.

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So the Twins are working with Grossman on his defense this spring, with new coach Jeff Pickler helping him with several drills to improve his first-step quickness, route-running and glove positioning.

Video: MIN@NYM: Grossman goes 4-for-4 against Mets

"We're trying to help him with some of his shortcomings last year," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think he lost a lot of confidence defensively. We're trying to get him in the right spot and make adjustments getting off to the ball. We're looking to free his hands more as he gets closer to the ball because sometimes he gets tied up."

Molitor likened Grossman's struggles defensively to an offensive slump, as Grossman wasn't regarded as a defensive liability during his three seasons with the Astros. Grossman said he's already learned a lot from Pickler, and it showed with a great running catch in Friday's game against the Phillies.

"There are some things he's showing me that I'm trying to get better at," Grossman said. "It's little things I didn't realize I did. I'm impressed by how he approaches it and how well-prepared he is. Just something like the way I hold my glove. I've already seen the difference in it. It's being softer with my glove, receiving the ball better, and I've already seen things pay off."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Robbie Grossman