FORT MYERS, Fla. — First-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli believes a team having fun has a better chance to play its best, so it will be interesting to see how he keeps things loose in the clubhouse.
Baldelli comes from a Tampa Bay Rays team that brought zoo animals, DJs and magicians into the clubhouse for atmosphere control. Evan Longoria was allowed to set up drums in one part of the clubhouse, and his racket could be heard down the hallway from the home clubhouse at Tropicana Field.
Under Joe Maddon, the Rays would play dress-up during selected road trips. It seemed to work — the Rays enjoyed a run of relevancy in the rough-and-tumble American League East. Even last season, the Rays finished 90-72 under Kevin Cash.
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi pointed out that Baldelli isn’t afraid to do his part to keep things light in the clubhouse. But he might not stoop to the shenanigans that went on with the Rays.
“I don’t think he will do any of that, knowing Rocco,” said Odorizzi, a good friend of Baldelli’s. “From the first couple days of camp here, he’s done a good job of establishing a mind-set through meetings, through his personality and his thoughts. He’s more of a hands-on guy on his own instead of bringing in outside stuff to encourage the team.”
So no jugglers, mimes or snakes in the clubhouse?
“I promise you, when I look around, if our guys are not enjoying our clubhouse, then I personally will take it and feel responsible like that would be my fault,” Baldelli said. “I find it my responsibility and the whole staff’s that these guys love showing up every day.”
Good for Manny
The Twins walked off the field at the end of practice Tuesday and learned Manny Machado had agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with San Diego.
“You know what? Congratulations,” Baldelli said. “I’m sure he’s pretty happy with the outcome. He’s a heck of a player. He’s another guy I’ve had the opportunity to watch a lot over the years.”
While Baldelli remembers Machado from being with a AL East rival in the Rays, Jonathan Schoop was Machado’s teammate from 2013-2018 with the Orioles. He’s happy for Machado, but wanted a heads-up.
“I’m mad at him right now,” Schoop said. “He didn’t tell me before he signed.”
• Lefthander Adalberto Mejia threw to hitters as he works to build up his endurance. While the Twins want to stretch him out, the plan for now is to have him ready for relief work as well. “It’s one of those situations where we want to make sure that he is lengthened out depending on how we’re going to use him exactly,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to use him in different types of situations.”
• Baldelli said he will soon announce who will start Saturday in the Grapefruit League openers. The Twins have two games that day.
LET’S MEET Luis Arraez
Position: Second baseman
2018 stats: Batted .310 with three home runs and 36 RBI between Class A Fort Myers and Class AA Chattanooga.
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Role: Starting at second base at Chattanooga, with a possibility of reaching Class AAA Rochester during the season.
Did you know? Arraez doesn’t walk a lot or hit for power, but he’s one of the best contact hitters in the organization. His development slowed in 2017 when he played three games before tearing the ACL in his right knee and missed the rest of the season. He batted .177 through 21 games at Fort Myers before turning it on and earning a promotion.
la velle e. neal iii