This offseason, the Minnesota Twins brought back Torii Hunter into the fold. Despite being a significantly different player than he was the last time he played for the Twins, Minnesota is relying on Torii’s veteran abilities to bring a renewed presence in the clubhouse. With a team full of youngsters, one of the biggest areas of deficiency a season ago was in the leadership category.
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It’s pretty hard to put a value or monetary price on how much leadership matters for a club. It also is somewhat difficult to define. While common wisdom would suggest that Torii Hunter is with the Twins to pave the way for Byron Buxton‘s arrival at the major league level, we looked into the influence he will likely have on Aaron Hicks as well. Just days into Spring Training, it appears information is being soaked up at every opportunity.
While it’s great that Buxton has already taken to the Twins great, it’s even more important that Hicks has. Buxton possesses all of the tools necessary to succeed at the next level, and of those, humility may be one of the greatest. Thus far in his major league career, Hicks has shown an affinity towards cutting corners and giving less than full effort at times. Following in Hunter’s footsteps should curve plenty of that. If Aaron Hicks wants to succeed in a make or break year, he is going to need to continue that trend.
On the flip side, it isn’t all about the youngsters. As a professional, Hunter understands that he can continue to learn from those who paved the way as well.
What mentorship and leadership all boil down to is learning. Understanding that life, professions, and growth all stem from advancement provided through those more experienced than yourself is a powerful thing. As Hunter learns from Carew, he also provides and example that no one is above furthering themselves, something both Hicks and Buxton can benefit from.
Like many teams around major league baseball, the Twins benefit greatly from former members of the organization such as Tom Kelly and Rod Carew making Spring Training appearances. The players that go out of their way to soak up that benefit are the ones that typically make the biggest impact. Torii Hunter’s presence is being felt early, and it’s more powerful than was probably expected.
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