December 5, 2016

So what if the Twins new hitting coach couldn’t hit?

Professional sports are filled with examples of the marginal athlete who later finds his or her true calling by becoming a successful coach. Here’s just one example: Calvin Coolidge Ermer, who played in one major league baseball game, later went on to win more than 1,900 games as a minor league manager.

It appears that James Rowson falls into this category as well. Rowson, who the Twins named as their new hitting coach to replace Tom Brunansky, spent three seasons in the minors and never advanced beyond Single-A ball. Brunansky, on the other hand, spent 14 seasons in the majors, including seven years with the Twins.

Yet it was Bruno who lost his job after last season’s 103-loss campaign. The Twins slugged 200 home runs last season, but they had little to show for it.

Rowson’s playing career ended at 21 and yet at age 40 here he is, ready to join the Twins as their new guru of hitting. Like so many others before him, Rowson has found a different path to success in baseball.

Before joining the Twins, he was in his second stint as the New York Yankees’ minor league hitting coordinator, according to MLB.com. Before that he was the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs in 2012 and 2013. He had a hand in developing some good hitters, according to MLB.com.

Rowson helped develop top prospects such as Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo and New York’s Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird, so he said he’s looking forward to working with young Minnesota players such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler.

Gary Sanchez, who made his debut with the Yanks last season, hit 20 home runs in 49 games, a 66-homer pace over a 162-game season.

Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey shared a few thoughts about Rowson with MLB.com.

Falvey said he met Rowson a few years ago and immediately recognized his people skills. Rowson’s ability to build relationships came across in his interviews with the front office and manager Paul Molitor, while those in baseball had nothing but positives to say about him.

“We heard nothing but praise about his character and as a hitting coach,” Falvey said. “It became so very clear that James stood out as the top candidate.”

Twins manager Paul Molitor, who entered the Hall of Fame with 3,319 hits, also talked about his impressions of Rowson.

“For me, it was about getting a feel for a person,” Molitor said. “Just get a feel for what he’s done and what he’s learned. Hitting is a tricky thing. Everyone has their own style and strengths. But I had a really good feel for his desire to establish relationships.”

 

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.