The Twins announced the hiring of Edgar Varela as their new hitting coach. Varela will replace James Rowson, who left the club after three seasons to become the bench coach and offensive coordinator of the Miami Marlins.
Varela, 39, will join the major league staff after spending the past two seasons as Twins minor league field coordinator.
Before choosing Varela, the Twins interviewed several candidates from inside and outside the organization. The club also reached out to some of its players for input.
A native of San Gabriel, Calif., Varela is a graduate of Long Beach State. He was drafted in the 31st round by the White Sox in 2002 and signed as an infielder, playing in the Arizona and Florida organizations and never rising above Class A. He began his coaching career in 2008 with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.
He managed Pirates rookie league teams for three seasons — Bristol (Va.) in 2014-15 and the GCL Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., in 2016. He was Pittsburgh’s Latin American hitting coordinator in 2017.
Varela and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez will be tasked to move forward with one of the top offenses in baseball in 2019, a group that swatted a major league-record 307 home runs and also had a record five different players hit at least 30 home runs. Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver and Max Kepler were among hitters who enjoyed career years under Rowson’s guidance.
The Twins might not have their staff settled yet, as bench coach Derek Shelton remains a candidate for the Pirates’ managerial position. That hiring process has been slowed by the recent hiring of Ben Cherington as Pittsburgh general manager. The team also said Michael Salazar will replace Tony Leo as head athletic trainer; he was an assistant for the Padres last season.
Salazar named trainer
The Twins confirmed Michael Salazar, 44, will be the head athletic trainer. Salazar announced that move on Twitter on Nov. 15.
After getting his doctorate in athletic training from A.T. Still University in Dec. 2018, Salazar spent last season as assistant trainer with the San Diego Padres.
Salazar was well-known to Derek Falvey, the Twins’ vice president for baseball operations. He worked in various capacities for the Cleveland Indians when Falvey was with that organization. He was a trainer for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.