MINNEAPOLIS -- Players and organizations all around Major League Baseball will have tough decisions to make regarding personal safety as the league prepares to ramp up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Twins have already made the difficult call to sideline two members of their coaching staff for the 2020 season.
Major League coach Bill Evers and bullpen coach Bob McClure will not be a part of the in-person coaching staff this season, the club confirmed in a call Monday afternoon. After consulting club doctors to identify higher-risk individuals within the organization, Twins leadership determined such a move would be the best course of action. Evers is 66 years old and McClure is 68.
"I think we all know that we're making the right decision and also noting that doesn’t mean it feels good," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It's very, very challenging to even think about these sorts of things, to have these conversations. Very difficult.
"About as difficult as a call to have to make as you’re ever going to have in the game of baseball," he added.
Twins Minor League pitching coordinator Pete Maki will assume McClure's role as bullpen coach. While the club did not name a direct replacement for Evers, who worked with the team's catchers, quality control coach Nate Dammann will maintain a presence on the staff following more than a decade as the club's bullpen catcher. LaTroy Hawkins, a special assistant to baseball operations, will also join the coaching staff as a special instructor.
Evers was entering his second season on Baldelli's staff, having followed the Twins' new skipper to Minneapolis after a 23-year stint in the Rays organization. The 2020 season will mark his 45th season of coaching in professional baseball. McClure is a 19-year veteran of the professional coaching ranks who was elevated to bullpen coach last offseason following a two-year stint as senior advisor to pitching development for Minnesota. He previously served as pitching coach for the Phillies, Red Sox and Royals.
Though Evers and McClure will not work with players at Target Field, the Twins anticipate that they will remain involved remotely in operations and development of players and coaches. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey noted that McClure has already served as a mentor figure to Maki for several years.
"Both Mac and Bill have been in the game for 45-plus years," Baldelli said. "To get news like this -- I couldn’t imagine what that would feel like. But also, both are going to stay very involved in what we do, and I think that’s a silver lining here. I think we’re going to hear from both regularly. There are going to be a lot of things that we're going to want to hit them up about and tap into their knowledge."
Once Twins leadership arrived at the decision, Baldelli had extended phone conversations with both Evers and McClure about the roles that both coaches would play on the staff this season. Difficult as those conversations and deliberations were, both Falvey and Baldelli remained firm in the conviction they made the right choice.
"I know those guys in particular felt Rocco's best interests were in mind when he was having that conversation with them, which allowed them to feel like -- at the end, I know both felt that we were making the decision with the health and safety of them and their families in mind, and they appreciated that," Falvey said.
Baldelli himself had his playing career cut short by a rare disorder that caused severe muscular fatigue, but after consulting with doctors, he doesn't feel that the condition exposes him to any particular susceptibility to COVID-19.