Falvey & Co., in their quest and wisdom to remake the Twins, have decided the team could benefit from the tutelage of some former players. The result has been a decision to hire as special assistants Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and longtime relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.
Each of the three will be in Spring Training this year and will serve “as a resource for players and coaches in the mental and fundamental aspects of the game,” according to a team press release. The trio will also be visiting Minnesota’s minor league affiliates throughout the season, where they’ll work in an instructional capacity with the team’s young talent. Hunter, Cuddyer and Hawkins will also work with Twins executives and coaches “to ensure development in player understanding of culture, talent evaluation and organizational vision.”
All of this seems fine to me, although I’m a little surprised that their roles within the organization aren’t larger than those spelled out above. After all, the team has an opening for a hitting coach and a first-base coach after former hitting coach, Tom Brunansky, and first-base coach, Butch Davis, were dismissed by Falvey & Co. Still, their presence, particularly Hunter, should help to address some leadership issues on the team.
In other words, who do young players turn to when they need a boost or a little extra motivation or a better understanding about the game they play? Well, it appears that Hunter will be on hand to fill those shoes. It’s a role that suits him, and there are those, including me, who think Hunter had as much to do with the Twins having a winning season in 2015 (his last before he retired) as manager Paul Molitor did. The team didn’t have a true clubhouse leader in 2016 and look how that season turned out?
Cuddyer and Hawkins also bring a lot of veteran leadership to the organization.
Some more on all three:
-Torii Hunter: Hit .277 with more than 2,400 hits, 350 home runs and nearly 1,400 RBIs over a 19-year career, including 12 seasons spent with the Twins. He also was a 5-time All-Star and 9-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield.
-Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer also hit .277 over a 15-year career, including 11 seasons with the Twins. He hit .331 in 2013 to win the National League batting title. Cuddyer played the outfield and infield for the Twins.
-LaTroy Hawkins: Hawkins pitched 21 seasons, including nine seasons with the Twins, first as a starter and then worked out of the bullpen the remainder of his career. He had 28 saves for the Twins in 2001 and 127 overall. Hawkins pitched for 11 teams during his career.
— Twins Daily (@twinsdaily) November 29, 2016