FORT MYERS, Fla. – Logan Morrison was five minutes into his introductory news conference when he referred to Paul Molitor as “Paulie 3K.”
That’s the new Twins slugger honoring his new manager for his 3,319 career hits.
As far as where Morrison will live when he moves north to play at Target Field ...
“Anybody in Minnesota have a house on a lake they want to rent me? Let me know,” he said.
“Don’t care. I want some water. The closer to the field, the better, but whatever.”
Then he took a playful shot at teammate Jake Odorizzi who, like Morrison, played for Tampa Bay last season.
“That’s my guy,” Morrison said. “That’s the AWR — Average White Righty — but he gets outs. He’s got a great dad bod.”
The Logan Morrison Experience hit Hammond Stadium on Wednesday as he finalized his one-year, $6.5 million contract. There is a club option for 2019, which could be triggered this season if Morrison reaches 600 plate appearances. The deal tops out at $16.5 million over two years if he reaches incentives.
Morrison, wearing a Germany national soccer team jersey, arrived in the morning, took a physical and met some of his new teammates, then spoke to the media.
How did he handle waiting out free agency, during which more than 100 players were unsigned as camps opened?
“As the guys from Tampa know, I’m not very patient,” he said. “It was definitely a test.
“This is about the Twins today. Just going off on how it went with them when they called, they were honest with me and I was open and honest with them. [The discussions were about] being able to establish a relationship with them and feel wanted.”
The 30-year-old Morrison socked a career-high 38 home runs last season. Part of his success stemmed from being more selective at the plate. The Twins’ data showed he increased his launch angle from 12 degrees to 17 degrees. He set career highs in home runs, hits (126), RBI (85) and walks (81).
He blasted three home runs against the Twins last season, two off Hector Santiago during a series at Target Field in May and an opposite-field solo shot off John Curtiss on Sept. 4 at Tropicana Field. Curtiss threw a slider on the lower outside corner of the plate and Morrison went the other way with the pitch. The ball carried farther than Curtiss anticipated as it became the first home run hit off him in the majors.
“When he hit it, I thought, ‘Fly out to left … uh, a double … uh, first home run,’ ” Curtiss said.
Morrison also struck out a career-high 149 times, but if he approaches last season’s power numbers, the Twins will have added a run producer to a lineup that surged during the second half of last season.
The Twins were on the lookout for a bat off the bench throughout the offseason but remained in touch with Morrison’s agent throughout the winter. After they traded for Odorizzi on Feb. 17, they sensed the market could provide something better than a bench bat for a good price, made a push for Morrison and inked a deal a few days later.
“In the free-agent market, you are trying to buy wins,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins’ chief baseball officer. “You are trying to buy production. Ultimately, we felt we could buy it at a reasonable cost on the bat side. And to plug that in right behind Miguel [Sano], or however Paul wants to make that group work, I think it only helps to serve all the guys who come in front of Logan.”
Sano joked with Morrison that he expects more fastballs now that he has another power threat around. The Twins lineup definitely looks deeper with the lefthanded-hitting ‘LoMo’ in it.
“If he wasn’t getting fastballs before, I don’t know what he’s going to do this year,” Morrison said of Sano. “He hits the ball really hard.”
‘He’s a character’
The Twins did extensive background work on Morrison, who’s engaging and witty but who also got in trouble for some reckless Twitter usage, including a homophobic tweet sent out in 2013. He has not been on Twitter since 2015.
“I think, first of all, they communicated the fact that not only did they want talented players but also wanted good character players,” Morrison said. “I made a lot of mistakes in my career, but I learned from them and [now I’m] able to take those learning experiences and help younger guys both on and off the field.”
Morrison, wearing No. 99, will make his Twins debut Friday against the Blue Jays at Hammond Stadium.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, speaking before the Twins-Rays game on Wednesday, said the Logan Morrison Experience will be enjoyable.
“He’s a character, he’s going to bring some life to the clubhouse, any clubhouse he walks into,” Cash said. “He shows up to play every single day, and that’s really probably his best attribute. He wants to be in there and impact the team.”