The first inning was taking place Wednesday night at Target Field. A reporter was talking with Twins President Dave St. Peter in the booth shared with other team executives.
St. Peter and his boss, CEO Jim Pohlad, are attempting to keep information tight on the search for a new boss of baseball operations, so this was more of a conversation than an interview.
“There are things that happen in your organization that are mysterious,” I said. “You have Brian Dozier at second and both Trevor Plouffe and Miguel Sano at third, and Jorge Polanco spends almost four months in [Class AAA] playing second and third base.
“I know the feeling has been that Polanco’s not a likely candidate to be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues, but why not play him there four or five times a week to find out for sure?”
St. Peter said that was a question for the baseball department. “I’ve heard that we think he’s better suited for the right side of the infield,” he said.
That would be second base.
A moment later, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel threw a fastball to Dozier, and the Twins’ leadoff hitter smashed it into the left-field seats. It would have been his 24th home run of the season if the game had not become a rainout.
Dozier has re-established himself as the Twins’ best everyday player, which was the case for the 3½ months before the 2015 All-Star Game.
The Twins don’t need a second baseman. They could use a full-time shortstop.
Which begs the question, how did that message never make it to Rochester, where Polanco — a tremendous hitting prospect — did not start a game at shortstop while second baseman Dozier was ripping it up in Minnesota?
That’s right. The three games in a row Polanco started at shortstop for Twins manager Paul Molitor were three more than he started there for Rochester.
Presumably, there will be considerable discussion of communication between the big leagues and the minor leagues when Pohlad and St. Peter get down to interviewing the final candidates to lead the baseball operation.
This was my example of a communication flaw, by the way, and not anything affirmed by St. Peter in Wednesday’s conversation.
Polanco’s extra-quick bat as a switch hitter is one reason that all public comments made in the Twin Cities toward the Twins are not currently as negative as was the case at the start of July.
The Twins were 25-54 on July 1. They scored 17 runs the next day vs. the Rangers and are 21-13 since July 2.
“Some of the feedback from our season ticket-holders and our fans as a whole has been better over the past six weeks or so,” St. Peter said. “The TV ratings have been up somewhat, too. I’m sure Max Kepler’s three home runs in Cleveland [on Aug. 1] didn’t hurt there.”
St. Peter admitted there was another reason for the decline in fans’ hostility: “I’m sure a number of people have moved on from us. The Vikings are starting, there’s U.S. Bank Stadium, the Olympics are going on … people are occupied with other things.”
St. Peter and Pohlad have talked with other owners, club presidents and general managers on potential candidates to replace Terry Ryan. The Korn Ferry search firm — the same outfit that confirmed Tom Thibodeau’s interest in the Timberwolves for Glen Taylor — is also reviewing candidates.
“We have yet to interview anyone,” St. Peter said. “And we aren’t going to be talking about it when we do.”
Jim Pohlad has private transportation available. If doing this quietly is the goal, the Twins’ candidates aren’t going to have to come to them.
“When talking about selling [season] tickets for next season, I will say that the person we hire to lead our baseball operation isn’t going to move the needle,” St. Peter said. “I think how we play the last two months, if we can continue to provide some hope for 2017 … that’s far more important for ticket renewals.”
The Twins will be unveiling what could be an important piece of the organization’s future in December: the new, $20 million baseball facility they will share with the Phillies in the Dominican Republic.
“We think it is going to be spectacular,” St. Peter said. “We feel it will give us an advantage in the Dominican that we haven’t had in the past.”
Hey, Polanco is a Dominican — and maybe a shortstop. Too bad the Twins didn’t work on that a bit in Rochester.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. email@example.com