Twins hitting coach James Rowson interviewed for the club’s vacant managerial position Friday, two sources confirmed, and the club also has interest in bringing in ex-major leaguers Mark DeRosa and David Ross to discuss the position.
These are the first known developments in the Twins’ efforts to find a replacement for Paul Molitor, who was fired Tuesday but offered another job in the organization.
Indications are that Molitor still wants to coach or manage, and could pursue a role with another team.
At the time of Molitor’s ousting, Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said the search would include internal and external candidates. Rowson, 42, just completed his second year as hitting coach after serving as the Yankees minor league hitting coordinator. He also was the Cubs hitting coach in 2012 and ’13.
Rowson has only been a hitting coach in his post-playing career, but the Twins don’t appear to view experience as a priority. The ebullient Rowson is well-liked in the clubhouse and is well-prepared, traits that could attract the Twins to him as they look for someone to connect with and cultivate the younger players on the roster.
The past three Twins managers — Molitor, Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly — were in the organization when they were named to the position, a trend that dates back to 1985. While Rowson is getting his chance to interview, and perhaps bench coach Derek Shelton will get an opportunity as well, the Twins could bring in a manager from outside the organization for the first time in more than three decades. Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine, as they launch their search, have hired personnel from all sorts of backgrounds as they head into their third offseason together.
But the Twins’ interest in DeRosa and Ross might offer a clue into the type of leader they are looking for.
DeRosa, 43, played in the major leagues for 16 seasons and now is an analyst with the MLB Network. Ross, 41, played 15 seasons and now is with ESPN. Both are not very far removed from their playing days — which could help them relate to the current ballplayer — and have proven their communation skills while working on television. The Twins observed with interest as Aaron Boone left the broadcast booth to lead the Yankees to a 100-victory season.
The Twins also might consider hiring a Latin manager, given they have some emerging talents in Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and Jorge Polanco — and need a certain slight husky third baseman to reach his potential. Houston bench coach Joe Espada, a Rule 5 pick of the Twins in 1998, could also draw their interest.
The Twins are expected to look at several candidates before making a decision, in what could be an interesting race to find a manager. The Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers and Reds are also in the market for new skippers, making the hiring season a fluid one.
Levine declines Mets interview
Twins General Manager Thad Levine confirmed that he declined a request to be interviewed by the Mets for their GM position. The Mets are looking for someone to step in for Sandy Alderson, who has been battling health problems.