New Twins hitting coach James Rowson wanted to get to know all the hitting coaches in the minor league system. So he sat back and listened.
The Twins recently held a “scouts summit” in Fort Myers, Fla., for all their talent evaluators. At the same time, they also held a “hitting summit,” where Rowson was able to meet with his staff. That included Rick Eckstein, recently hired as Twins minor league hitting coordinator.
“We laid out the terms: ‘I want to hear your ideas. I want to hear what you think,’ ” Rowson said. “The hitting coaches got the chance to speak and say what they think we can do better what they think we do well. I loved it.”
The goal was not to establish a new hitting philosophy but to make sure there’s a clear vision on how to let hitters develop.
“We talked about being very careful to let these guys continue to be athletes,” he said. “Let them play the way they play and learn, rather than immediately try to stick them into a specific role or slot. I think the freer they are early in their careers, that athleticism tends to continue to work itself up the chain.”
At the end, the hitting coaches then met with the scouts. Rowson wants scouts to feel comfortable with reaching out to him about finding the right players to develop. One goal of the new Twins administration is to strengthen the bond between scouting and development, and the meetings in Florida were an example of that.
“I’m not a big fan of one voice. I’m a big fan of one message,” Rowson said. “So I think that many voices can deliver a message and everyone has to feel included in the process. I encourage our scouts to call me. Without scouts, we don’t have players.”
Season tickets drop
In 2016, the Twins sold about 13,800 season tickets, and the 103-loss season had some officials worried that number would drop by 3,000 to 5,000.
But Twins President Dave St. Peter said Friday that the club expects to sell around 12,000 this year. The hit is not as big as some expected, but it still is a hit.
“In my mind, the fans deserve great credit for being patient,” St. Peter said. “We don’t take any loss of season tickets lightly. Could it have been worse? Maybe. I know this. We need to take a step forward and show our season ticket base that we are the right track.”
Blyleven to coach
Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven will come down from the broadcast booth to be a special instructor during spring training.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Blyleven said Saturday.
The plan is for Blyleven to work with the team late in spring training for a week, but the length of his duty could be affected by the World Baseball Classic. As he has in the past, Blyleven is serving as the pitching coach for the Netherlands.
“As we reworked Bert’s agreement, and he went down to [broadcasting] 80 games on the TV side, one of the things he had an interest in was having an opportunity to be a guest instructor,” St. Peter said.
Blyleven, late last season, sat in on a couple of bullpen sessions by righthander Jose Berrios. St. Peter said that did not factor into the decision to let him help out this year.
Infielder Eduardo Escobar initially had planned to play for Venezuela during the WBC but has changed his mind. WBC rosters have to be finalized by Feb. 6.