MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins introduced new manager Rocco Baldelli at his October press conference, they touted his communication skills and ability to develop relationships.
He had a chance to bond with his coaching staff in Fort Myers, Fla., shortly after Thanksgiving, preparing with front office members for the quiet but fruitful Winter Meetings in December in Las Vegas. Now, Baldelli is getting his chance to bond with some of his new players, meeting many of them in person for the first time.
He has spent the week on the Twins Caravan with ace pitcher Jose Berrios and outfielder Eddie Rosario traveling through the state. Reliever Taylor Rogers and infielder Ehire Adrianza joined for the last leg on Thursday.
He also made trips to Georgia and the Dominican Republic to build a bridge with young stars Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, who the Twins are relying heavily on to bounce back in 2019.
And TwinsFest starting Friday, Jan. 25, will afford him the opportunity to meet most of the rest of the roster as players flood into town for the weekend.
“Rocco, I know is really excited to get to TwinsFest … because he’s going to see in person a number of players that he has not met yet,” Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said. “He’s talked to them all on the phone. He just hasn’t had a chance to sit with anybody, so this will be a good opportunity.”
Baldelli said he has touched base with all his new players at least once and his coaching staff is starting to get into conversations with players, too.
“Rocco’s going to try to hit them all one-on-one a little bit and then outside of the activities that go on there, the nice thing about TwinsFest is when guys aren’t actually really doing something at TwinsFest, they’re hanging out in the visiting clubhouse,” Falvey said. “It’s a good place for our guys to just kind of mingle, spend some time together so groups can get together — coaches, coaches with players, staff.”
All this follows trips to visit Buxton and Sano that Baldelli said went well.
Sano posted a picture to his Instagram with Baldelli in late December in his hometown, San Pedro de Macoris, expressing his appreciation.
“I think just giving them a platform, just giving them an opportunity to sit down beyond once you get past the spending a little bit of time with each other, you start getting into some of the conversations,” Baldelli said. “I think just giving them the opportunity to talk and letting them know that I’d really like to know what they have to say, I think that was meaningful to them and I think helpful in a lot of ways.”
Shortly after TwinsFest, the Twins will convene in Fort Myers for spring training, which will give Baldelli and his staff the chance to have similar conversations with his whole team. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13, with position players following suit a few days later.
“You want to get down to Fort Myers and start seeing these guys and talking to them, getting into these conversations live and in person and get on the field with these guys and start talking baseball,” Baldelli said. “…The phone conversations are really helpful and they’re good, but it’s all about getting down to Fort Myers and getting going.”