Twins' Baldelli plans to visit Buxton, Sano at their offseason homes
LAS VEGAS -- Amid meetings and discussions with Minnesota Twins front office officials and an otherwise hectic week at baseball’s winter meetings in Las Vegas, new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli met with the media on Monday, Dec. 10, and Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Here are five takeaways from those talks:
Baldelli will visit Buxton, Sano
So much for the Twins this upcoming season will hinge on having Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano healthy and productive.
Both Buxton, who spoke with the media Tuesday about his displeasure with not being recalled last season, and Sano will receive visits at home from Baldelli, who has plans to go to Georgia to see Buxton and the Dominican Republic to see Sano.
“I think it’s all about the individual. And having, doing everything we really can to get these guys in a good frame of mind ready to go,” Baldelli said. “And kind of as prepared for the new staff coming in and new group coming in as well. If we can do that and get guys ready and feeling good coming into camp we’ll do whatever we have to do.”
From the sound of it, Baldelli will be trying to create a clubhouse that players enjoy coming to each day with a focus on keeping players loose.
“I would love our team to go out there and look like they’re having fun and that they’re relaxed and comfortable when they’re playing,” Baldelli said.
That, in turn, will lead to better results, he said.
“When you’re comfortable, you play your best. If you’re tense and you’re locked up, I’ve not seen many people play well in that kind of environment. And I think we’re going to get our best when these guys are freed up in every possible way — on the field, off the field.”
Ideas from the Rays
Baldelli joined the Twins from Tampa Bay, one of the most forward-thinking organizations in baseball.
So what ideas might he be bringing over from the Rays, the team that started the “opener” trend last year?
“I think bringing those ideas over are important, but again, like we call them, ideas,” Baldelli said. “We need to talk about them. We need to see how they apply to the roster that we have, the team, the general organizational philosophy that we have in a lot of different ways. Some of those ideas I bet we’ll see on the field. Some of them we’ll I bet talk about them a lot and they don’t end up out on the field, but the fact that we’re talking about them and having this conversation, that’s where everything else sprouts from.”
Staff bonding time
A trip to Fort Myers, Fla., after filling out the staff helped the new group gel with each other.
“Getting everyone together, getting a few good meals, having some laughs and just spending the time with each other gaining some comfort I think was very important and allowed us to kind of jump off from there into individual projects related to players, which is what we need to do and something we probably couldn’t do until we all (got) together,” Baldelli said.
He’s already comfortable with bench coach Derek Shelton, with whom he has a long history.
“I think we’re on the same page in pretty much every way,” Baldelli said. “We’ve connected. We have a history. We know each other very well. We know how each other thinks about things and truthfully probably bring different things to the table, which also will hopefully help us complement each other very well.”
Age vs. experience
At 37, Baldelli will be the first manager born in the 1980s.
That comes with benefits and drawbacks, which Baldelli acknowledged Wednesday.
“I believe experience does matter. I think that there are huge positives to people that have gone through things in life and seen things and seen things on a baseball field that brings real value to the table. I also think that there’s a lot of value in being able to relate to players in the best possible way,” Baldelli said. “… I really do think that there are things that will help me by being young and there are certain things that I’m going to have to learn from and there will be challenges associated with it, too.”