FORT MYERS, FLA. – Paul Molitor is an acknowledged expert at stealing signs. But he’s got a lot less experience at flashing his own.
That became evident Wednesday, the Twins manager said a day later, because there was some difficulty in communicating with third-base coach Gene Glynn, and even an instance of miscommunication. “It was good for that to happen [now],” Molitor said. “You need to practice those things.”
A signaled-for defensive alignment didn’t happen at one point, Molitor said. And one batter got a “swing away” sign on a 3-0 count by mistake, Glynn said.
“It’s a little thing, but it’s also not a little thing,” Glynn said. “It’s very important for the manager and third-base coach to get used to each other, to body language and such. We’ve talked about it, and we’re still fine-tuning some things.”
Molitor said Wednesday that he had to get used to giving signs throughout the game. And Glynn noted that the huge spring roster presents an obstacle at times, too. “I need to get in position to see him better. There’s a lot of guys in the dugout, a lot of guys moving around and blocking us,” Glynn said. “We’ll get it cleaned up.”
Lessons from Kirby
Torii Hunter’s clubhouse stall is located in a corner at Hammond Stadium, one with historical significance. It’s where Kirby Puckett once dressed, with the much younger Hunter close by, absorbing lessons about baseball — and life.
Friday marks nine years since Puckett died of a stroke at 45, and Hunter talked about what it means to be back in the same clubhouse, carrying on what Puckett taught him.
“Two weeks before he passed away I was talking to him on the phone,” Hunter said. “Talking about him wanting to come to spring training and working out and things like that. We had a good conversation for about an hour. Two weeks later, he passed away.
“He’s a guy who raised me. And now I’m sitting in this position, giving back to Aaron Hicks, who could be sitting here next. Giving back to Byron Buxton who could be sitting here next. Kirby is the guy who started that trend, helping young center fielders, or outfielders, or any player. Everyone around him, he tried to make better. He made me a better person and a better player, and I’ll never forget that.’’
Fairly smooth shift
Thursday’s game was Oswaldo Arcia’s first as the Twins’ left fielder, a transition from right that Molitor is “not expecting to be a huge deal. It might even be a little bit of a relief for him at Target Field. Not that [left field] isn’t spacious, but it’s a little bit more conventional.”
Longtime clubhouse attendant Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway was back in camp Thursday after four days in a Fort Myers hospital due to dehydration related to the flu. The 75-year-old Hattaway will return to Minnesota to regain his strength.
The Twins’ first road game of the spring takes them to Port Charlotte for a matchup of rookie managers, Molitor against Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash. Tommy Milone will start against Rays righthander Jake Odorizzi.
PHIL MILLER and La VELLE E. NEAL III