Bad news:As Twins most best player departs’the team in tears…..

Though Rocco Baldelli’s time as a player was cut short by physical ailments, his career in baseball was only beginning to take off.

The mind and the heart can be powerful forces.

Seeking a fresh voice for their underachieving young players, the Minnesota Twins made the 37-year-old Baldelli the youngest manager in the major leagues on Thursday by hiring a sought-after candidate who interviewed for vacancies with four other teams.

The former Tampa Bay Rays player, assistant and coach will be a first-time manager, the first in the major leagues born in the 1980s. He replaces Paul Molitor, who was fired after four seasons with a 305-343 record .

“I like to have fun. I like for the players to love showing up to that environment, to that clubhouse,” Baldelli said, adding: “I feel like when guys are relaxed and having fun out on the field, they play their best.”

Baldelli spent the last four years on the staff of Rays manager Kevin Cash, the first three as first base coach. His role for 2018 was a newly created position called major league field coordinator, helping Cash and bench coach Charlie Montoyo with in-game strategy, working with the outfielders and focusing on the continued development of the team’s young players. Montoyo was hired as manager Thursday by Toronto.

Baldelli’s most recent experience fit perfectly with what Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine sought. They were effusive with their praise of Molitor for his acumen, character and flexibility, but the closest Falvey and Levine came to articulating a specific reason for Molitor’s dismissal when they announced it a little more than three weeks ago was a desire for deeper connections with millennial players in hopes of more productivity on the field.

Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (5) looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, June 26, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“He connects exceptionally well to people. His humility, his open-mindedness, but also there’s a strong sense of opinion there. He has a lot of ideas as how to help players,” said Falvey, who is just 35.

Joined at a news conference at Target Field by his parents, two brothers, longtime girlfriend and a close childhood friend, Baldelli won over Falvey, Levine and the dozens of others who met him in the organization with his honesty and affability.

“He’s going to meet one-on-one with guys and find opportunities to enhance whoever they are as a player. I think that’s what today’s manager needs to do,” Falvey said. “They need to connect to each player on an individual level.”

Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired from the Rays, made an unsolicited endorsement of Baldelli to Falvey after his candidacy was reported.

“One thing Jake really said that stood out was players want to come to him to learn about what he’s thinking about their game,” Falvey said. “That’s about as resounding a statement as you’re ever going to hear.”

Whether or not the 62-year-old Molitor could have done more, the 2018 season was a mess for center fielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano, the two players long groomed to be the franchise cornerstones. The Twins finished 78-84 after making the AL wild-card game in 2017.

The 24-year-old Buxton was again affected by injuries and struggled anew at the plate, so much that he spent the last four months in Triple-A. Though Buxton won a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and has 46 steals in 51 career attempts, his on-base-plus-slugging percentage is just .672 in 306 major league games.

The 25-year-old Sano also had a career-worst season in 2018 after making the All-Star team the year before. He spent six weeks in the minor leagues for a midseason reconditioning of his work habits and hitting approach and struck out 115 times in 299 plate appearances with the Twins.

Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (5) looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, June 26, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli closed the clubhouse Wednesday to keep out reporters after his team was swept in a three-game series by the Atlanta Braves.

Baldelli said the players were having a meeting to sort out what went wrong following a 3-0 loss, the team’s sixth shutout of the season.

“Well, what I took away was the truth of the matter is we were flat and we made no adjustments really in the game almost whatsoever, and if you’re going to call a spade a spade and say how it is, that’s not good baseball,” Baldelli said.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *