Twins rookie's muscles 'touched by God'

June 17th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- You know you're doing something right when, as a professional athlete in a room full of other professional athletes, you're getting playfully heckled to "Put a shirt on!" when you're changing.

Welcome to 's life.

"I mean, he just looks different than I do," reliever admitted.

When the 23-year-old catcher made his first foray into the big leagues this season, Twins team photographer Brace Hemmelgarn posted a photo on Twitter of Rortvedt in the weight room, holding a kettlebell with . In the caption, Rortvedt is astutely noted as the "weight room's best friend" -- and if you take a peek at the rookie's massive arms, it's rather self-explanatory.

Perhaps if Rortvedt played some sport other than baseball, there would be more of a chance for this physique to be noticed by the masses. Those baggy jersey sleeves and all the catcher's gear tend to get in the way of that.

But rest assured: It's all noticed behind the scenes by those in the clubhouse -- even by those who don't really venture into the weight room.

"I don’t go in the weight room, I’ll be honest with you," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But I’ll tell you what: He is some kind of strong, and every time his photo’s on the big screen, you look at him, and you’re like, ‘How the hell do you get veins in that part of your body?'

"It’s crazy."

Is Rortvedt putting in hours and hours in the Target Field weight room before the games? Is there some tried-and-true routine that helps him achieve this?

With an almost bashful smile, Rortvedt claims that he's still falling into different routines in the weight room here and there, based on what he's interested in or likes doing at any given time. When he was in middle school, his father, Eric, got the whole family into working out, and the young catcher naturally took an affinity to it -- since, he claims, that as a relatively short 5-foot-10, he needed to stand out somehow.

But that doesn't really happen at the ballpark during the season, when pushing himself in the weight room is more of an injury risk. So, right now, he's just in "maintenance mode."

"I'm not really pushing or lifting really heavy," Rortvedt said. "I do that in the offseason. In the season, it's just trying to stay in shape and stay injury-free, so that's pretty much what I'm trying to get at now."

But even during the offseason, Rortvedt noted that he just did all of the workouts that the Twins prescribed to their players and "just added arms and stuff at the end," he said, almost with a verbal shrug. He does take it quite seriously and eats healthy, leading to this physique that has persisted throughout his young career. But his biggest asset?

"I hate to say it, and people say I have good genes, but I guess I do have pretty good genes," Rortvedt said.

"We were actually just talking about this," Duffey said. "It's not like he's doing some ungodly amount of weights. He was just touched by God and is gifted in what he's got. Just making sure to take care of it."

"I thought he was born like that," Baldelli said.

Perhaps there's an alternate universe somewhere in which Rortvedt uses this affinity toward a bodybuilding career. But he hopes not to ever have to worry about that, since his strong defense behind the plate has carried him this far in his professional career since the Twins selected him in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

Rortvedt owned a career .667 OPS in the Minors with 17 homers in 296 games, but when he gets into one, he really gets into one. Consider that his only big league homer thus far traveled 417 feet to left-center field as a left-handed batter -- and if he can keep coupling that sort of occasional pop with his defense, he could be bound for a lengthy big league career.

And if all those muscles are any indication, he's clearly got the work ethic to make the most of what he's got.

"He works his tail off," Baldelli said. "I’ll tell you that. I know that."

"He works hard; that's all you can ask for," Duffey said. "He's in there every day doing something. He's always ready to play. He loves the game and wants to be in there. From a guy like that who's getting a chance, that's all you can ask for. He wants to get better. He wants to help guys get better. He's approachable. He's coachable. Everything you want. He's been a lot of fun."