Fired Twins coaches feel no malice

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tom Brunansky's rise through the coaching ranks with the organization he helped win a World Series three decades ago coincided almost directly with the unlikely climb of Brian Dozier.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Tom Brunansky's rise through the coaching ranks with the organization he helped win a World Series three decades ago coincided almost directly with the unlikely climb of Brian Dozier.

The level of trust and communication between those two only increased as the diminutive Dozier reinvented himself as a power hitter in 2013, Brunansky's first year coaching hitters at the major-league level for the Twins, and later enabled the duo to salvage a lost season for Dozier in May 2016, launching the second baseman toward a 42-homer explosion.

So, in the wake of Tuesday's firing along with first-base coach Butch Davis, Brunansky reflected proudly on his association with many young Twins hitters, including Dozier.

"It's not only the numbers but who he is and how he's developed as an ambassador to the game," Brunansky said Wednesday by phone from Mexico, where he was hosting his annual charity golf event. "We don't have an effect on the game as much. I don't play, but I can help through work and talk and shape and mold players into good people that will honor our game and play it the right way."

Dozier, an eighth-round draft pick in 2009 who willed himself into a 2014 all-star and now a franchise-level player, tops that list.


"I look at Doz, and I certainly see the time we were together and his growth and maturity," Brunansky said. "It was fun to be a part of it."

Saddled with a streaky lineup that late in the year went through a stretch without scoring more than one run in an inning over 106 innings, the longest such drought in the majors since the 1942 Philadelphia Phillies, Brunansky was an unfortunate casualty of regime change atop the Twins' baseball operations.

Like Davis, who received a five-minute phone call from chief baseball officer Derek Falvey on Tuesday that Davis said "seemed like forever," Brunansky wasn't given a chance to interview for his job during a brief call with new general manager Thad Levine.

"Thad Levine introduced himself, apologized for it being the first time he'd talked to me and said they weren't going to renew my contract," Brunansky said. "There was no process of interview or talking with either me or Derek. The first time I talked to either one of those two was when (Levine) informed me."

Brunansky, 56, took the news well.

"It wasn't long," he said. "We chatted for a little bit and I congratulated him on his new post. I wished him and everyone with the Twins the best."

Davis, 58, was in a New Jersey hotel when he got the call, waiting for Wednesday's 14-hour flight to Dubai, where he and his wife will visit their daughter, Shannon Gallegos.

"The call was pleasant - very kind, very thoughtful," Davis said. "(Falvey) thanked me for my time with the Twins and impressed the fact they were going in a different direction."


No reason was given for the dismissal of Davis, who oversaw big-league baserunning and outfielders for the Twins.

"He just said talking to (Twins manager Paul Molitor) and other people, they just came to the conclusion that they would go in another direction," Davis said.

Davis, who joined Molitor's first staff for the 2015 season after 20 years coaching and managing in the Baltimore Orioles' minor-league system, has subsequently heard from Molitor and his fellow coaches. He also received a return text of appreciation from Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who broke in with Davis' help and was voted Twins defensive player of the year by Twin Cities media this season.

Tasked with converting 270-pound Miguel Sano into a right fielder last spring, Davis doesn't wonder whether that failed two-month experiment led to his dismissal. Twins outfielders combined for the third-worst defensive runs saved figure in the majors.

"I don't think it was held against me at all," Davis said. "You know when new management comes in, you always have changes anyway. The Sano era, him moving to the outfield, I don't think that had anything to do with the fact I'm not coming back as a Twin."

Davis said he wanted to thank the "Twins family," including Molitor, club owner Jim Pohlad and team president Dave St. Peter "for giving me this opportunity."

Davis also thanked former GM Terry Ryan, fired in July, for hiring him in November 2014.

"I owe him a great debt of gratitude for bringing me over," Davis said.


Brunansky later talked with Molitor, fired after a 99-loss season as hitting coach for the 2004 Seattle Mariners.

"It's all good," Brunansky said. "I wished him all the best. I understand the business side of it."

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