The job of managing in the major leagues is evolving, Paul Molitor said, and he is trying to evolve with it. The Twins gave him some help with that Monday by hiring Derek Shelton as bench coach for 2018.
"We talked some during interview process about the increase of information, the layering that we've done in terms of resources [and] analytics. I told him I was open to things that change how I think about managing a game," Molitor said in introducing, via conference call, his new right-hand man. "He's obviously very open-minded about the changes that have transpired in the game."
Shelton is a 47-year-old veteran of 13 seasons in major league dugouts, 12 of them as a hitting coach in Cleveland and Tampa Bay. But he spent 2017 in the newly created role of quality-control coach for the Blue Jays, greatly expanding his areas of expertise.
"The job description was fairly fluid. It had a lot of data-based [duties], analytical, dealing with the advance reports," said Shelton, a former catcher who played two minor league seasons in the Yankees organization before turning to coaching. "I integrated into the defense more than I ever had before at the major league level, [and developed] relationships with the minor leagues, going back and forth with the coordinators [and] the Triple-A staff, in terms of development goals. The job itself was ever-changing."
Under Molitor, Shelton will help coordinate each day's schedule, discuss possible lineups and break down each game afterward, the manager said. He also will be put in charge of organizing spring training, and "he's going to be part of building our culture," Molitor said. "He also knows the psychology of sports. As a hitting coach for many years, he definitely knows how players' minds work."
Shelton met Derek Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer, a decade ago when Shelton was Indians hitting coach and Falvey was just getting his start in the front office.
"I remember the interactions right away, very fondly. [Then-Indians manager] Eric Wedge and that staff felt that Derek was someone who was highly impactful there," Falvey said. "We will use Derek in ways that will transcend more than just in-game and in the dugout [roles]. We want his advice and counsel in a lot of things we're doing organizationally."
Shelton replaces Joe Vavra, who resigned last week in order to take a similar role under former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire with the Tigers.
The Twins continued to clear space on their 40-man roster by waiving catcher Chris Gimenez and lefthander Ryan O'Rourke. In addition, lefthander Nik Turley was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh.
Gimenez, who batted .220 with seven homers in 77 games (and also pitched in six games), and O'Rourke, who missed the 2017 season after undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery in April, become free agents.
Turley, who posted a 11.21 ERA in three starts and seven relief appearances, is the third Twins player claimed by other organizations this month, following lefthander Randy Rosario (to the Cubs) and outfielder Daniel Palka (to the White Sox). The Twins now have six open spots on their 40-man roster.
• Molitor has been named one of three finalists for AL Manager of the Year, the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced, along with Cleveland's Terry Francona and Houston's A.J. Hinch. The winner will be announced next Tuesday.
• Tanner Swanson, an assistant coach at Santa Clara, was hired as Twins minor league catching coordinator.