FORT MYERS, FLA. – Rod Carew lost his eager spring pupil Sunday, when the Twins reassigned top prospect Royce Lewis to the minor league complex.
Lewis, sidelined for a couple of weeks by a strained oblique that is now nearly healed, spent much of his downtime hanging around the Hall of Fame hitter, collecting advice and, since he couldn’t swing a bat, refining his bunting technique, a Carew specialty.
“He told me if I bunt, I’ll raise my batting average about 40 points, so I might bunt a little bit more this year,” said the 19-year-old shortstop. Carew, a seven-time batting champion, shared advice “about hitting and the little things in the game. I sat next to him for three straight games, basically three straight games of him in my ear about every pitch.”
That’s what the Twins were hoping would happen.
“Royce could not have made his camp any better than it was. Obviously we all wish, and especially Royce wishes, that he was out there playing and showing us all what he can do,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. “He did not pout [and] he did not waste a day. … He used this camp to learn and grow. He accomplished that and then some.”
It’s been a camp of reunions for Baldelli, who has already faced his former team, the Rays, and manager Kevin Cash four times. Sunday, he got to welcome another former Tampa Bay coach, new Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, to Hammond Stadium.
Baldelli and Montoyo were coaches on Cash’s staff for the past three seasons, and after the Rays won 90 games last summer, both became in-demand candidates for several managerial openings around the game. They were hired, Baldelli by Minnesota and Montoyo by Toronto, on the same day in October, but had discussed managing several times before.
“I probably have spent more time talking with Charlie about these sorts of things than anybody else,” Baldelli, who has never managed before, said of Montoyo, the winningest minor league manager in Tampa Bay history. “I played for him [in the minor leagues]. We’ve known each other for a long time and we know each other very well. I’ve had a chance to spend time with him in the coach’s room, in the dugout, talking through everything you can imagine on a baseball field. So that gave me a great foundation, and he’s a guy I still rely on today.”
Toronto infielder Cavan Biggio had a big day at the plate Sunday, collecting a single off Jake Odorizzi and hitting a long two-run homer off Matt Magill. Quite a showing for a guy who knows he’s lucky to be playing at all.
Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, was driving about 35 miles per hour near Blue Jays camp in Dunedin on Wednesday when another driver missed a yield sign. Biggio had to swerve to miss the other car, and crashed his pickup truck into a brick wall. The truck was totaled, but Biggio was spared injury thanks to the airbags.
Manager Ron Gardenhire brings the Tigers to Fort Myers — Detroit’s first visit to Twins camp since 2006 — to face his former team. Kyle Gibson is scheduled to start, with Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Addison Reed and Blake Parker also expected to pitch.