Gardenhire trying to get Bartlett at-bats

Gardenhire trying to get Bartlett at-bats

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Non-roster invitee Jason Bartlett is trying to make up for lost time, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is doing his best to help him do so.

Bartlett, who started at second base and led off for the Twins during Saturday afternoon's game against the Mets, did not play in 2013 after nine seasons in the big leagues, four of which were with Minnesota.

Gardenhire hoped to get Bartlett more at-bats to shake off the rust. After going 0-for-4 on Saturday, he is now hitless in 24 plate appearances. He struck out swinging, flied out to center, hit a hard liner for an out at third and grounded out to the pitcher.

"He's been fighting through it," Gardenhire said. "He's been out a year of baseball, and right now it's hard to get everybody at-bats with this many guys in camp."

The 34-year-old recently played in a Minor League game for that reason. Gardenhire was told Bartlett was staying on the ball better and hit a couple of line drives.

As a result, Gardenhire wanted to build off that performance to help Bartlett's confidence. In his career, he has hit leadoff in 135 games.

"I know how this guy plays," Gardenhire said. "I've had him. We're looking for leadership and veteran experience, and he does all those things. Now, does he have the ability to be where he was or close to it so that he can help us? That's what we're looking for."

Christina DeNicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.