Eduardo Escobar’s son, Eddie Jr., got a nice gift last week, and it wasn’t even his birthday. EEJ was presented with his dad’s hoverboard, one of those popular two-wheeled scooters. See, Eduardo Sr. isn’t supposed to ride one anymore.
“Had to give it to my boy,” the Twins shortstop said, because manager Paul Molitor has banned the contraptions from the clubhouse. “That’s OK. He likes riding it, too.”
Not as much as Escobar — and at least a dozen other Twins — did during the final month of last season, when relief pitcher Ryan O’Rourke set off the hoverboard craze among his teammates by riding one around the clubhouse. Pretty soon, nearly every member of the bullpen owned one, and Miguel Sano helped teammates acquire more. Players learned to do stunts on them, and they delighted in making not-so-agile teammates try to ride them.
“It got a little carried away,” Molitor said. “Guys [were] riding them down to the batting cages and down the tunnels.”
Despite the fun, there always was a vague air of danger about them, considering most people fall off several times while learning to ride. Molitor said nothing as the season ended, but this spring, he decided not to wait for the first broken wrist or sprained ankle to institute a rule against them.
“I just didn’t like the direction that it was taking last year,” Molitor said. “It was comical when they first came out a little bit, people challenging each other to get on. Thankfully, nothing happened. … The guys had fun with them, but you’ve got to be aware that someone could get hurt.”
No language barrier
Carlos Font has been hired by the Twins as a communications assistant, but he also will be part of an initiative to help Spanish-speaking players communicate.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to have a translator in every major league clubhouse. This will help take down the language barrier some Spanish-speaking players have encountered.
Font, who is from Puerto Rico, has worked for the Dodgers’ Class AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City. He will split time between being a translator and serving under senior director of communications Dustin Morse.
J.D. Kim was hired a few weeks ago to serve as Byung Ho Park’s translator, giving the Twins two translators who will travel with the club during the season.
Minor leaguers arrive
Minor league pitchers and catchers have reported to camp, across the complex from the major leaguers. Position players must report by March 8, with the first full workouts scheduled for March 10. The opening of minor league camp usually coincides with the first roster cuts in major league camp.
2015 stats: 0-1, 6.43 ERA in seven innings for Milwaukee. Landed on the disabled list twice.
Acquired: Signed a minor league deal with an invite to camp.
Role: Middle relief for Twins or Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? In four games vs. the Twins, he has given up two earned runs over 3⅓ innings. An extreme ground ball pitcher, Kintzler has given up only 17 home runs in 181 major league innings.