FORT MYERS, FLA. – Ehire Enrique Adrianza Palma was born Aug. 21, 1989, in Guarenas, Venezuela, a sprawling suburb of Caracas. Robert Edward Grossman was born 26 days later in San Diego, also a sprawling oceanside mecca.
Adrianza carries the nickname "Guarenero" as a tribute to his hometown. Grossman has been "Robbie" since his parents brought him home as a baby.
Adrianza's father, also Ehire, played basketball for the Venezuelan national team. His mother, Nidza Palma, did the same in volleyball. Yet his father turned young Ehire to baseball at age 4, and that became his athletic pursuit.
"My dad and Ozzie Guillen became close friends as young kids," Adrianza said Friday. "He is my godfather. When Ozzie Guillen is your godfather, you are going to play baseball."
Grossman's family moved to the Houston area and he attended Cypress-Fairbanks High School. He was a quarterback in that high-octane football program, and then before his junior year, he decided to concentrate on baseball.
"There were some people upset that I quit football," Grossman said. "It was tough to give up, but baseball was the sport where I might have a future, and the risk of injury in football was too high."
Adrianza's father was a scout in Venezuela for the White Sox, the team Guillen managed to a World Series title in 2005. As Ehire turned 16 and became eligible to be signed, his father pushed the idea that he should start hitting lefthanded as well as right in order to take full advantage of his speed.
"I batted about .120 trying it the first year, and I said, 'I don't want to hit lefthanded,' " Adrianza said. "But I kept trying, and soon it felt as natural as batting right."
Grossman also made the move to switch hitting relatively late. He added lefthanded hitting at 17, a year before the 2008 draft, when he was taken in the sixth round by Pittsburgh.
There was a Twins' road trip to Florida's East Coast this week, for exhibition games in West Palm Beach vs. Houston and in Jupiter vs. St. Louis. Two buses with players left early Wednesday and one busload stayed for Thursday's game.
Manager Paul Molitor was on the trip, and Adrianza and Grossman were among a few veterans who played in both games. This was an indication of Molitor's increased interest in the play that this pair has to offer, following the signing of Logan Morrison as the primary designated hitter.
What's the connection? Morrison is a lefthanded hitter. So are left fielder Eddie Rosario, right fielder Max Kepler, first baseman Joe Mauer and No. 1 catcher Jason Castro.
"We are lefthanded heavy," Molitor said Friday. "We're going to need a righty or two to be ready when we're facing a lefty. That will be a chance to use our bench, to get those guys at-bats."
Grossman had a quick meeting with Molitor on Tuesday and was told that he would have to make the club as a backup outfielder, now that Morrison was taking over DH duties. Adrianza, a backup infielder, also becomes important as an outfield option.
This is what Molitor indicated in a brief conversation early Friday: He's more comfortable with Adrianza playing left than when it was completely new position for him in 2017, and Molitor's preferred position for Grossman is right field.
Grossman had a career-high 456 plate appearances last season, with 68 starts at DH and 48 in the outfield. His No. 1 asset is getting on base — a .361 on-base percentage in 2017.
Adrianza spent 11 years in San Francisco's organization, getting brief looks with the Giants and wasting many seasons being encouraged to slap at the ball. He had a career-high 186 at-bats with the Twins in 2017, with a respectable 24 RBI.
"I was thinking 'Good field, no-hit shortstop' when we got him," Molitor said. "I was wrong. He hit the ball hard quite a bit. And he looks stronger this spring."
Adrianza played in the outfield — 14 games (nine starts) in left — for the "first time in my life," he said. He will be found in left more often this season, either when Rosario has a day off or when Eddie moves to right and Kepler sits.
Barring injury, Adrianza will be on the club. Grossman's jeopardy would come with a continuation of the poor fielding he showed too often in 2017. He doesn't have to move with the gait of Kepler; just catch the balls that should be caught.
And if Grossman could repeat his 2016 as a righthanded hitter — .344 average, .418 on-base, six homers, 18 RBI in 125 plate appearances — Molitor might be happy to make it close to a platoon in right field.