FORT MYERS, FLA. – While the 26-man roster and three-batter minimum have received more attention, another rule change for 2020 looms much larger for coach Nate Dammann. Starting next month, managers will have only 20 seconds — not 30 seconds, as the rule has allowed since the video-replay challenge system was introduced in 2014 — to inform umpires that they are challenging a call on the field.
“I saw that on the list [of rule changes] and said, ‘What?’ I haven’t really wrapped my head around it yet,” said Dammann, who last season took over as the Twins’ video coordinator, watching the game from a console in the clubhouse and advising manager Rocco Baldelli whether to dispute a call. “I mean, it’s really hard [to make a decision] in 30 seconds already.”
Dammann has three video screens and between 12-14 camera angles at his disposal, and can slow down replays and enlarge specific areas. But it takes time to get it right, which is critical because managers can challenge only one call a game unless the call is overturned.
“I’m guessing there will be times where you have to take more chances, where we only have time for one or two angles, and only look at them once,” said Dammann, who will relay what he sees to new bench coach Mike Bell by phone. “I don’t know if that means we’ll say ‘Go ahead and try it’ more often, or if we’ll have to let some close ones go.”
He and Bell have already discussed using precise language to relay information quickly. Baldelli, who will make the final decision, says the score and inning may play a bigger role.
“If we can’t, because of the time, get verification from inside, you just have to make a call on the spot,” Baldelli said. But he insists he’s not worried about how quick 20 seconds will seem. “We play with what we’re given, and if we’re given 20 seconds, we’ll make the most of it,” he said.
• Miguel Sano spent 20 minutes fielding ground balls alongside Nelson Cruz, his first Fort Myers workout at his new position. “I’m looking forward to watching Miguel’s progress over there because he’s got some enthusiasm for what is happening right now,” Cruz said. “For him, I’d say the biggest goal [of camp] is to just make him the best first baseman we can possibly make him.”
• The Twins invited three more players to their major league camp on Sunday, adding righthander Cory Gearrin and infielders Zander Wiel and Drew Maggi. The latter two played for Class AAA Rochester last season, while Gearrin, 33, has 336 games of major league experience, and a 3.64 ERA, over eight seasons with six different teams. He pitched for both the Mariners and Yankees last season.
• The remaining position players all checked in on Sunday, so camp will open with only Fernando Romero, delayed by visa problems, missing. Baldelli will address the team on Monday morning before the Twins’ first full-squad workout.
Zander Wiel, 1B
2019 stats: Racked up 69 extra-base hits at Class AAA Rochester, more than any player in the Twins’ minor league system. His 40 doubles were the most by a Red Wing since Don Richmond in 1952, when Rochester was a Cardinals affiliate.
Acquired: Selected in the 12th round, 350th overall, in the 2015 draft.
Role: Probably back to Class AAA to start the season, but could make his major league debut at some point if the Twins need infield depth.
Did you know? Along with Dodgers righthander Walker Buehler, White Sox righthander Carson Fulmer and Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, Wiel helped Vanderbilt win its first College World Series in 2014.