FORT MYERS, FLA. – Rocco Baldelli walked out to Stelly Field, behind Hammond Stadium, like a tour guide on Sunday, showing his new shortstop around. Andrelton Simmons had finally arrived, and the Twins' manager wanted to get a good look for himself.
What he saw made him sound a little giddy.
"He looked really good. He went through an entire workout today. I was on the back field getting a chance to watch him," Baldelli said. "It's enjoyable. It's enjoyable to see a guy out there who can do things. He has his own style of playing shortstop."
It's an effortless, sleek style that more than one MLB observer has described as "breathtaking," that has earned him four Gold Gloves. Twins pitchers are as excited as the manager about all the ground balls they anticipate him gobbling up.
"I guess I didn't really realize just how good he is at shortstop. I've seen some videos now, and he's pretty unbelievable," righthander Randy Dobnak said. "Having him behind me, especially for me as a ground-ball guy, it's pretty exciting. Having him and [Jorge] Polanco and [Josh] Donaldson, it's going to be a real strong infield."
But that can wait until he knows his way around.
"It was good. It was pretty light. They took it easy on me," said the 31-year-old Simmons, who signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract in January. "Get to know where the training room is, the weight room, the fields. Do a little stretching and playing catch, take some ground balls, get a little BP, did a little work in the cage."
It was a nice change, Simmons said, from his daily chore of inquiring about his paperwork necessary to travel from his native Curaçao to the U.S., an obstacle made more difficult by recent winter storms in this country. "That kind of got some [of the process] stuck on the way, from what I understand," he said.
Baldelli said he's not certain when Simmons will be ready for game action, but "I would say within a week." The former Brave and Angel doesn't feel two weeks behind because he spent that time doing baseball drills with his father and brother.
"One thing I didn't get was live pitching," Simmons said, "but hopefully I'll get those in the next couple of days and be ready as soon as possible."
His body is ready for the rigors of a full, 162-game season, his 10th in the majors, he said. Serious ankle sprains kept him off the field in each of the past three seasons, the past two caused by lunging for first base while trying to beat out an infield hit. He missed a total of 105 possible games in those three seasons but said his ankle passed the Twins' physical with no problem this weekend.
"Everything looks good and feels good," he said.
His mind is in better shape now, too, the shortstop added.
Shortly after signing with the Twins, Simmons revealed to a southern California newspaper reporter that he had struggled with depression during the pandemic season last summer, even briefly had thoughts of suicide.
"It helped me. I think people understand a little better now," Simmons said of opening up about the reason he left the Angels four days before the season ended. His wife, Gabriella, helped him find the words to express himself to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register and "put it out there so I could be at ease," he said. "I said my piece and I hope everything that was put out there was good and people understand what me and maybe some other people have to go through."