Molitor 'embracing' new role in Minors 

Baldelli away on paternity leave as Evers assumes managerial duties; Rooker to follow

September 6th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- Nearly three years after the conclusion of his managerial stint with Minnesota, admits that he doesn't see a future for himself on the Major League side anymore -- but his new role as a roving Minor League instructor for the Twins' organization does plenty to scratch his baseball itch.

Even as he took some time to step away from the game following his dismissal as manager at the end of the 2018 season, Molitor said he just couldn't shut down his coaching mind as he watched his son develop as a player, and he found himself wondering how a play happened in the way that it did or how one of the coaches might need to approach a player with some advice.

Molitor remembered that even the day he walked out of the manager's office for the last time, he'd discussed the idea of a reunion with the organization in the future after some time off, and he stayed in touch with team president Dave St. Peter and president of baseball operations Derek Falvey about the possibility of taking advantage of any opportunities that might come up.

He said they had conversations before the 2020 season about some involvement on the Minor League side before things broke down due to the pandemic -- but those talks rekindled this winter, leading to Molitor helping out with Minor League Spring Training and getting started in earnest this June, with a handful of trips already under his belt to the Twins' top three affiliates.

"I’m embracing it because I enjoy being around the game," said Molitor last month. "It’s a little different because we’re teaching the game a little differently now down there, and so I’m kind of learning while I’m teaching. I don’t know as many of the staff as I used to, so that’s kind of been a transition for me to kind of do that, but it’s been fun."

Considering he's 65, Molitor just wanted a way to stay involved in the game, even outside of the Major League environment, and hoped to stay based at home in Minnesota. This opportunity with the Twins struck the right balance with him, giving him the chance to hit the road for four or five games every other week, focusing on the higher-level affiliates.

While he's with Triple-A St. Paul or Double-A Wichita or Class A Advanced Cedar Rapids, he still likes to talk about hitting and baserunning -- but also enjoys making general rounds to all of the players and staff.

"I have a little bit more free rein," Molitor said. "I love talking to pitchers. I love talking to staff. We’ve got all the young staff that like to pick your mind, too."

The biggest challenge to the new role, Molitor said, is understanding how much baseball pedagogy and development have changed even in the short years since he's been involved in the game -- but he and the Twins know that the younger players in the organization can only benefit from his wealth of experience as a Hall of Fame player and coach.

"Mollie’s really been there for me and our group in a lot of ways," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He’s always there and offering himself up or even just an ear at certain times. And he’s a very special guy and [an] extraordinarily special baseball mind, so it’s great to see him.

"He’s spending time with our younger players and talking to them and sharing some things with them, which I think is fantastic, and I think he’s really enjoying it as well, and I hope our players take advantage of it in every way possible."

Baldelli away for paternity leave; Rooker to soon follow
Baldelli had a self-imposed 4:05 p.m. ET cutoff for himself during Sunday's series finale in Tampa Bay, when he needed to leave the dugout so that he could shower, gather his belongings and hit his 6:11 p.m. flight home to Minneapolis for the birth of his first child, a daughter, which is imminent.

Major League coach Bill Evers finished out that game and will assume managerial duties, he expects, for at least three of the four games in Cleveland. Evers already filled in for Baldelli once this season, as part of a 6-3 win over the Angels on May 20 while Baldelli served a one-game suspension.

"I think it's going to be fun," Evers said. "I want to do the best job possible and Rocco has afforded me this task. Not so much a task, but I really love to manage. I have managed a few games in my career. I'm looking forward to it, and with the help of the coaching staff as well as the players, it should be fun."

Evers and the remaining coaches are already having fun thinking about some of the possibilities.

"You think I'd make ESPN if I got thrown out?" Evers asked.

"Oh, Roc’s definitely picking up the fine [if Evers gets thrown out]," pitching coach Wes Johnson remarked. "We will make sure that happens."

Baldelli isn't the only one with a baby one the way; left fielder Brent Rooker's daughter is also due on Tuesday, with the 26-year-old anticipating the possibility of needing to leave Cleveland on a moment's notice to join his wife, Allie.