Monday, March 30, 2015
Twins have Molitor at the Helm
The Cover of the 2015 Media Guide
As I was leaving Paul Molitor’s office the other day, I mentioned to him that I was from the Toronto area. He quickly stood , reached over and shook my hand. “I want you to know,he told me, “that my time in Toronto was a grand chapter in life for me”.
I had just spent 15 minutes in that very small room. On his desk was an assortment of small recording devices which belonged to the scribes there, discussing the game. The Twins had just defeated the Blue Jays in a game played in Fort Myers. The stadium is still called Hammond Field, but it is part of a larger complex called Century Link Sports Complex.
Jose Reyes led off the game for the Jays, as he did in 143 ball games last year. He is a very exciting player to watch, and he will ignite the team throughout the season. This is his 13th season in the Major Leagues, and he is approaching impressive levels of hits (1772) and stolen bases (455) in his career.
The Twins allowed the Blue Jays back into the game in the top of the ninth inning. Mark Hamburger gave up a single to Devon Travis, then induced Jays’ outfielder Ezequil Carrera to ground out, allowing Travis to advance to second base on the fielder’s choice. Dalton Pompey then stroked the ball in front of the plate. Hamburger fielded the ball, wheeled around, and threw wildly to first. Travis scored on the errant throw, and Pompey ended up on third. He then scored on Daric Barton’s single, tying the game at five apiece. The Twins won the game on a run producing single in the bottom of the ninth.
Todd Redmond started for the Jays, and, with the exception of Brian Dozier’s home run in the first inning, breezed through to the end of the third inning. We also had a look at Liam Hendriks, Bo Schultz, Chad Jenkins, Scott Barnes, Kyle Drabeck, and Bobby Korecky. The Twins did most of their damage in the seventh inning on a blast from Torii Hunter. Hunter is in the twilight of his career, as he will be 40 on his next birthday. He has returned to the Twins this spring after spending several seasons on Los Angeles and Detroit. He will be well received when he runs onto the field for the first time at Target Field.
Molitor began his post-game comment by saying, “It got a little ugly there defensively in the eighth and the ninth.” He commented on Rosario’s hit to win the game: “Eddie was not intimidated in that situation. He delivered.” Regarding the Jays’ run production in the eighth, he noted, “They got a couple of hits to right field, and it turned into a little more than it should have.”
When asked about roster changes, he indicated that the team had “12 or 13 days to the opener, and that things should be cleaned up by the weekend.” He also commented on the play of some individual players.
What impressed me the most was that there is no question about who is in charge. Molitor has certainly paid his dues, waiting for his chance to manage in the major leagues. He knew that he was following a legend in Ron Gardenhire, but he is certainly ready. Each and every aspect of the game was vivid in his mind as he fielded a number of questions from the hoard after the game. This is his fifteenth season at the coaching level.
He spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, then joined the Blue Jays in 1993. He stayed three years, winning the World Series in 1993, and was the Series MVP. He finished his career with the Twins in 1998. He entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, on the first ballot.
Not yet sixty, Molitor has signed to be at the helm of the Twins for the next three years. The Twins last experienced post season play in 2010, when they were swept by the Yankees. Molitor will certainly work towards better things for his Twins this year. On opening day, they will be ready.