FORT MYERS, FLA. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor was quoted this week as saying he has lobbied with Derek Falvey, the team president for baseball, to add a veteran player that could provide a strong presence in the clubhouse.
The current roster makeup would suggest the likely position for such a player would be outfielder.
I was walking in the area between the dormitory and clubhouse for minor leaguers at the Twins’ complex on Wednesday and I ran into just the guy. The name might be familiar:
Dang almighty, Hunter is exactly in the same impeccable physical condition today as when he played his final season for the Twins in 2015.
“I thought the same thing,’’ Falvey said Wednesday. “Torii looks like he’s 19. I told him, ‘We might have to redo this special assistant thing with you to include playing.’ ‘’
Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer, all Twins during the turnaround in the early 2000s, were hired as special assistants to the team’s new baseball operation in November.
When you see additions such as this, you presume such hires are largely ceremonial. What I can now say about that is this:
Torii does not see his new job with the Twins as ceremonial. We had an informal 15-minute conversation on Wednesday that was largely off-the-record.
What’s important is that he is here for three days of meetings that Falvey is holding at the Twins’ facility. Hunter is planning to dive in, listen and watch, and to express his opinions.
Torii has never been reluctant to express those, and he’s not going to start now. He’s also going to do some work on Twins’ television broadcasts (as are Hawkins and Cuddyer), and it will be intriguing to watch him walk the tightrope between refreshing candor and proprietary information.
One Twins’ meeting being held Wednesday was all the people involved in hitting instruction in the organization. The session was being led by James Rowson, the Twins’ new hitting coach, and Rick Eckstein, the minor league hitting coordinator hired late last year.
Hunter was among those sitting in. And voicing opinions, no doubt.
Falvey and his general manager, Thad Levine, will hold meetings with the amateur scouting staff on Thursday and into Friday. This will be the first sitdown with all the scouts being conducted by Sean Johnson, who was moved up to scouting director by Falvey in early December.
“Change is underway,’’ Hunter said. “It’s going to be good.’’
The Twins have been close to good only once in the past six years. That was when Hunter, in the season he turned 40, returned to Minnesota for a closing bow.
And he isn’t going to be talked into an encore, even if he does look the part of an athlete still in his prime.
Or before his prime – “looks 19,’’ said Falvey, the Twins’ baseball boss who will turn 34 next month.