BALTIMORE -- After nearly making a surprise run to the postseason in 2015, the Twins began the '16 season with optimism, believing they had a postseason-caliber club, opening the year at Camden Yards.It's a similar situation this year, with the Twins coming off a surprise run to the American League
BALTIMORE -- After nearly making a surprise run to the postseason in 2015, the Twins began the '16 season with optimism, believing they had a postseason-caliber club, opening the year at Camden Yards.
It's a similar situation this year, with the Twins coming off a surprise run to the American League Wild Card Game in 2017 and beginning the season with a three-game set in Baltimore. But Minnesota, coming off a tough 3-2 loss in 11 innings on Opening Day, believes it won't go like it did two years ago, when the club lost nine straight to start the year en route to a Major League-worst 103 losses.
"I'm mindful of the fact we came in here two years ago and got swept out of here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was impactful in that we had two years less experience for a lot of our guys. I think our confidence was shaken early that year."
Molitor, though, is less worried about this group, as their young core is two years older and Minnesota added starters Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn, relievers Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke and designated hitter Logan Morrison without losing any impact talent from last season.
"I think in general, even if we didn't make those additions, there would be a different feel about the maturity of our young players and what they can accomplish at this level," Molitor said. "But we were able to add significantly to our depth both in the rotation and the bullpen."
The Twins are a confident bunch after last year's postseason appearance, and it was evident after their Opening Day loss as they remained loose in the clubhouse and liked the fight they showed late in the game -- tying it in the ninth with two runs against O's closer Brad Brach.
"We proved that if we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging and not make it easy on the other team," Duke said. "We battled. That's kind of the signature of this team."
Minnesota knows there are higher expectations this year after what the club accomplished last season and the additions it made to strengthen the team, but the Twins feel like they're equipped to handle them and that last year was no fluke.
"The excitement is on a different level in here with what happened last year, and what I mean by that is we had a sour taste in our mouths," second baseman James Dozier said. "Everyone thought we played better than we were supposed to, but we just realized we're a really good team. We thought we should've went deeper, and that's why we're hungrier."
Molitor, the reigning AL Manager of the Year Award winner, also helps by bringing his even-keel approach, which vibes well with a clubhouse that has a mix of youngsters and veterans aiming to prove they're legit contenders again this season.
"I think we have experienced people to temper [expectations], with the knowledge you have to go out and there and produce," Molitor said. "I can tell the guys are excited about what lays ahead for us the next six months."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.