Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey let outfielder/designated hitter Robbie Grossman get away once before they were both with the Twins, but he’s pleased to have him again.
When Falvey was assistant general manager with Cleveland in 2016, the Indians sent Grossman to Class AAA instead of having him break with the major league club from spring training. That decision opened up a window for the Twins to approach Grossman because he had a clause in his contract saying if he wasn’t with the Indians, he could become a free agent.
“When he left Cleveland, he was in the minor leagues and he had an opt-out in his deal,” Falvey recalled. “We didn’t have a major league opportunity for him, and we fought to keep him but the Twins very smartly identified that he had the opportunity to come up to the big leagues and we’re glad we have him. There’s no question. I’m glad he’s still on this side.”
In two seasons in Minnesota, Grossman has exceeded every expectation. He has hit .271 with a .387 on-base percentage and drawn 99 walks compared to 139 strikeouts. He’s also been the team’s most patient hitter.
This season he leads the team in on-base percentage at .388 and walks with 44 before Wednesday’s game against the Angels, one more than Miguel Sano despite playing in 10 fewer games. His on-base percentage is fourth in the American League, trailing only MVP candidates such as the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Astros’ Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
To give an idea of how good Grossman has been at getting on base, the Twins’ franchise leaders in OBP are Rod Carew and Buddy Myer (Washington Senators infielder from 1925-27 and 1929-41) at .393. Grossman ranks seventh in team history.
No ill will
When asked if he and Falvey have ever discussed the decision that led to his leaving the Cleveland organization, Grossman said he understands such moves happen all the time in baseball.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him,” he said. “I like to think everything happens for a reason, and I’m a Minnesota Twin. And I’m excited to be here and I’m excited for the rest of the season, especially how well we’ve been playing.”
Grossman said that after three decent seasons in the Houston Astros organization and his short stay with Cleveland, there weren’t a lot of teams after him when then-General Manager Terry Ryan got in touch to say the Twins would have a roster spot for him.
“At the time it was just a good opportunity and my agent had a conversation with Terry and I ended up coming over here,” Grossman said. “Like I said, I’m excited to be a Minnesota Twin and excited for the rest of the season.”
Grossman has spent the bulk of this season as a sort of super-utility player. He has appeared in 67 of the team’s first 83 games and has split time among right field, left field and designated hitter. He has also hit in every spot in the lineup except sixth.
“I just try to stay consistent as I can,” he said. “Do the same thing when I get to the field every day and when my name is called, be ready to contribute every day … and try to help us win ballgames whenever I get the chance.”
Grossman hit in the top spot in the batting order Tuesday, going 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
“Leading off is something I did my whole career, mostly until I got here,” Grossman said. “I think that goes along with why my approach is so patient and some of the things I do at the plate and see so many pitches. I spent my whole career, even in high school, I led off.”
Grossman has a great understanding of the strike zone in Major League Baseball, and he was asked if that reputation helps him earn walks and work the count in his favor.
“I think it just comes along with playing at this level and getting to know some of the umpires and having some experience under my belt,” he said.
Even if it was a strange road to get there, it sure seems to be working out for both Falvey and Grossman to be on the Twins’ payroll.
• Through 77 games this season, Sano is hitting .278 with 20 home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 60 RBI and 50 runs scored. Through 77 games last season, Sano was hitting .246 with 16 home runs, 14 doubles, 43 RBI and 39 runs scored.
• The Twins will hold a summer celebration for the 1987 World Series 30-year reunion on July 20 at Target Field. The event will be held on the field, with all proceeds going to the Twins Community Fund.
• Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who was hitting .204 going into Wednesday, had a big July 4th when he got three hits, including a home run, in a 5-4 victory over the Angels. Falvey was asked about Buxton’s progression as a hitter. “I know [hitting coach] James Rowson and Byron have worked very hard in the cage every day to get his swing where it needs to be,” he said. “Admittedly he had that first month [hitting only .147], which was tough for him, and sometimes it’s hard to climb out of that hole with respect to your overall line. But Byron continues to do that. We’re confident in the work ethic and the makeup of what he’s doing. I think that’s what we look for. We look for that work ethic.”
• The Timberwolves report that since the Jimmy Butler trade on June 22, the team has added more than 500 new full-season memberships and the total membership ticket base is larger than last season with nearly four months before the first home game. The new Courtside Club is about 98 percent sold out, with only 12 memberships remaining.
• If the Timberwolves make the playoffs this season, one minor downside will be the loss of their draft choice pick to Atlanta. If the Wolves miss the playoffs, they will keep the pick. That selection was part of the Wolves’ deal for Adreian Payne in 2015.
Sid Hartman can be heard on WCCO AM-830 at 8:40 a.m. Monday and Friday, 2 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. firstname.lastname@example.org