Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey says the team and former manager Paul Molitor still haven’t agreed on any new role Molitor might have with the club.
“We chatted before spring training began, over the course of the winter. We’ll continue on moving forward,” Falvey said. “I think we have all said at some point we will have that conversation, but it is my hope and quite frankly my expectation that Paul will be a part of the Twins organization in some capacity moving forward. As it stands right now, we haven’t had that chat this spring. I fully anticipate we will once we get back up north.”
If Molitor has received a job offer from some other club, he hasn’t talked about it. In fact, he hasn’t talked about a role with the Twins at all this offseason.
Apparently Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine believed it wouldn’t be fair to have Molitor at spring training with new manager Rocco Baldelli.
Time will tell whether anything will work out down the road, but the Twins have to pay Molitor $3 million per year for the next two years unless he gets a job with another club.
Rocco’s first spring
According to Falvey, Baldelli’s spring training operation has been a lot different from Molitor’s, or several managers from the Twins’ recent past.
My opinion is that Falvey and Levine have had their fingerprints on everything that went on in spring training this season, when maybe that wasn’t the case a year ago.
“So far it has been a lot of fun,” Falvey said. “Our guys down here have really embraced some new ideas, new techniques. I know a lot has been discussed around that. It has been great. Rocco has done a really nice job with keeping the energy up.
“Every year you hit a little bit of a lull towards the middle of camp as players start to focus more towards the season, and I feel like our guys are plowing right through that. We’re excited about the team just continuing to stay healthy and hope for the best here.”
Falvey said one of the players who has really impressed him is free agent signee Martin Perez.
The lefthander has made two starts, appeared in three games, and allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out seven over nine innings for a 2.00 ERA.
“I think Martin Perez is probably one of the guys who publicly has certainly surprised, but for us internally, Martin is a 27-year-old starter two years removed from being a really good middle-of-the-rotation arm,” Falvey said. “What he has done coming into camp in terms of getting himself ready, development of a cutter, we’ve seen velocity at levels we haven’t seen for him before because of some mechanical tweaks. I would say he has been one of the more exciting arms in this camp.”
While Perez posted a 6.22 ERA over 22 appearances for Texas last season, he did have some solid seasons with the Rangers from 2013-2016, when Levine was working there as an assistant general manager.
Getting Sano healthy
There’s no question the biggest disappointment of spring training hasn’t happened on the field, but was the injury to third baseman Miguel Sano, who cut his foot in a celebration of his Estrellas Orientales team winning the Dominican League World Series and will now be sidelined through the first month of the season.
Falvey said that after Sano recently had a procedure on the cut at the Mayo Clinic, the hope is to get him fully healthy and have no setbacks going forward.
“What we did by sending him to Mayo is to make sure we have a better understanding of the specific timeline,” the 35-year-old executive said. “Rather than wait and hope that some of that healing would happen on its own, we took a more active role in that. Now that may have been a step back to take two steps forward, with the idea that he would be out of any type of boot or any type of protection as we get close to the beginning of April.
“That puts him close to potentially in games after doing a lot of more physical activity in games by the middle of April, which would set him up for a return to play at the major league level by May 1. That’s realistic. That’s our hope. That’s our plan. Hopefully getting him May 1 on will be a big boost for our club.”
First base battle
Maybe the biggest roster spot battle is going on at first base, where free agent signees C.J. Cron and Lucas Duda are battling with Tyler Austin, who the club acquired from the Yankees last July in the Lance Lynn deal.
Austin has hit .414 with a home run, two doubles, four RBI and a run scored in nine games.
Cron has hit .286 with two homers, three RBI and five runs scored in eight games.
Duda has hit .333 with three doubles, four runs scored and five walks in 10 games.
Falvey said this is the kind of competition the team hoped for when they made the moves to bring in quality position players.
“It has been great. C.J. came in and had the leg up in the competition in terms of his production over the past couple years,” Falvey said. “We know what Tyler Austin can do when he swings the bat and has continued to show that power production and where he can be. In Lucas Duda we have a true pro’s pro, a guy who goes about his business as well as anybody and has been a great fit in our camp, a lefthanded bat that can complement [a righthanded-hitting-heavy roster].
“We all try to keep our fingers crossed to stay healthy through the end of camp, but if that’s the case and we get towards the end, we’re going to have some difficult decisions to make, that’s for sure.”
• The Vikings’ decision to re-sign linebacker Anthony Barr meant defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was not going to be brought back. He instead agreed to a three-year deal with the Browns that’s potentially worth $36 million. That might mean Shamar Stephen, who got a three-year deal from the Vikings on Monday, will be in line for a lot more playing time in 2019. Stephen played with the Seahawks last season but spent four years with the Vikings from 2014-2017. He had 25 tackles last season in Seattle with two sacks, but started only one game.
• The Gophers baseball team is off to a rough start this season at 3-11. But they got some good news this week when former Woodbury standout infielder Ronnie Sweeny announced he’d be transferring from Iowa Western Community College to the Gophers and be ready to play next season.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org