Bartlett revitalized after a year off

Jason Bartlett is back with the Twins after sitting out 2013 to rest his body and mind.

hide

Jason Bartlett became an All-Star after the Twins traded him away, but a knee injury eventually stalled his career.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jgholt@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Jason Bartlett had transitioned into the non-baseball lifestyle. He woke up early to take his children to school. He went to the gym with his wife. Even when he wasn’t doing anything, he wasn’t bored.

“I love just chillin’,” he said.

Bartlett left baseball because his right knee told him in 2012 that he couldn’t be athletic anymore, which is kind of a problem for a shortstop. A year later, following surgery and rest, his right knee signaled him to give baseball another try. So while he was perfectly fine with his life at home, he jumped at a chance to relaunch his career. He can chill later.

At age 34, Bartlett is back in spring training. His Mohawk haircut gives him distinction. The grey whiskers give away his years. But he has a chance to win a job at Twins camp as a utility player, as he has been in Fort Myers since early February, taking grounders at second, short and third, preparing to battle for the job.

“I told my wife that one of the reasons I came back was that I wanted my kids [Jayden, 5, and Jagger, 2] to see me play,” Bartlett said. “Jayden loves being around the clubhouse. It will be something for the kids to see again. I have a different mindset now. Just have fun, don’t put stress on myself and enjoy the last few years.”

The website baseball- reference.com already has kicked Bartlett to the curb, listing “Final Game” under his biography. That was May 14, 2012, when he went 0-for-2 for San Diego against Washington. Three days later, he landed on the disabled list because of a sore right knee, batting .133. He ended up having surgery.

“There were two big pieces of cartilage on each side that came out,” Bartlett said. “It used to catch every time I bent down.”

He rehabbed the knee but was released by the Padres on Aug. 20, 2012. He looked into playing in 2013 but was told by his agent, Ryan Ware, that he probably needed to play winter ball to help his chances of getting offers.

“I said, ‘That’s OK, man. I need to clear my head and relax my body,’ ” Bartlett said. “I did that and after that I was like, ‘I’m done.’ ”

At 33, Bartlett was at home in California with two kids and his wife, Kelly, who wondered what it was going to be like to have her husband around all the time.

“The first month he was home, I was like, ‘How about you go out and golf or do something,’ ” Kelly Bartlett said. “As a mom who was pretty much single for eight months out of the year you get in your groove, your routine. After that first month it was pretty awesome.

“He would do school dropoffs and we’d be able to do things that hadn’t done during the season. We took up tennis together. We started playing golf and taking some lessons. Going on more frequent vacations. We got into our own groove.”

They also ran in a number of 5K races together. Through all the activities during 2013, Bartlett realized something.

“My knee wasn’t hurting anymore,” he said. “I started squatting and squatted more than I ever had without any pain. So that slowly started getting in my head, that I need to play again.”

Ware called around during the offseason, and found that the Twins were interested. It was a good fit for the Bartletts because they were moving from San Diego to Naples, Fla., not far from the Twins’ year-round facility at the Lee County Sports Complex.

The Twins traded Brian Buchanan to San Diego for Bartlett in 2002, and he made his major league debut in 2004. Eventually becoming the everyday shortstop, he batted .271 in four seasons with the Twins before he was dealt after the 2007 season, along with Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan, to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie.

Bartlett’s career took off with the Rays, as he helped them win a pennant in 2008 and was named to his only All-Star team in 2009, when he hit .320 with 14 homers and 66 RBI. He batted .288 over three seasons with the Rays before being dealt to San Diego.

He has 24 games of postseason experience, 21 with Tampa Bay and three with the 2006 Twins. That appeals to a Twins team looking to change its losing ways.

“He brings some veteran presence and some leadership to the table,” Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. “We will have to see what he looks like in spring training. It’s an opportunity for him. If it works out, it will give us an experienced guy who knows what he’s doing and with the ability to play shortstop.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will play Bartlett around the infield and outfield in spring training games to see if he can handle the role. Eduardo Escobar looms as his main competition. The utility role will be even more vital if the Twins take 13 pitchers north. That leaves a three-man bench.

“He’s going to take [fly balls] in the outfield too,” Gardenhire said. “I told him, ‘First baseman’s mitt, outfield glove. If you are going to make the club that’s what we have to do. You have to play around.’ You don’t have that many guys on the bench anymore. Got to have guys who can move around.”

Bartlett is lugging gloves all around spring training as he knocks off the rust following his 1½-year absence. And his wife better get ready to take over dropping the kids off at school. The old man feels young again.

“I haven’t seen a pitch in a year and a half, but that should come naturally in spring training,” he said. “I feel good man. I had lost that athleticism and that’s why I wasn’t having fun anymore. I’m now running around, doing jump throws. Where was this?

“It took a couple weeks, but I feel like the old Barty.”

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 0 1st Qtr 14:56
Miami 0
Baltimore 0 1st Qtr 14:47
Houston 0
Detroit 0 1st Qtr 14:55
Chicago 0
Cleveland 0 1st Qtr 14:45
Carolina 0
Atlanta 0 1st Qtr 15:00
New Orleans 0
Green Bay 0 1st Qtr 14:35
Tampa Bay 0
Kansas City 0 1st Qtr 14:20
Pittsburgh 0
New England 0 1st Qtr 14:26
NY Jets 0
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 8 2nd Half
Virginia 39
Maine 12:00 PM
Army
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 0 1st Half 17:29
Quinnipiac 3
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 29 2nd Half
Denver 37
St Marys-CA 30 2nd Half
George Washington 40
TX-San Antonio 34 2nd Half 16:24
Nicholls 27
Portland State 30 2nd Half
Columbia 37
Tenn Tech 28 2nd Half 16:00
Morgan State 37
SMU 18 2nd Half
Auburn 35
Quinnipiac 44 2nd Half
Hartford 29
Hofstra 34 2nd Half
Boston College 26
Eastern Washington 32 2nd Half 16:10
Georgia Southern 29
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Bryant
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Brown
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
Wagner
FIU 12:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Providence
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
Samford
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Marist
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Buffalo 4 1st Half 18:57
Long Island 0
Bucknell 0 1st Half 20:00
Mount St Marys 0
Saint Josephs 0 1st Half 20:00
(5) Notre Dame 0
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close