Minnesota Twins Fill Out Coaching Staff
Twins Hire New First Base Coach, Major League Coach
The Twins filled out their coaching roster today with the hiring of two new coaches, a first base coach and a “major league” coach. Both provide interesting twists in their hirings.
On a day where everyone has been following the Twins due to ramped up trade talks between the Twins and Dodgers, Minnesota instead touted some different “big news” via Twitter:
Jeff Smith has been a long-time Twins minor league coach, starting with the Gulf Coast Twins in 2005. He actually was drafted by the Twins as a catcher 10 years prior, but never made it to the big leagues.
His biggest accomplishments came as manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle (Advanced A) in 2008-2009. The Miracle claimed division crowns both years for the first time since 1995.
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Because of his success with the Miracle, Smith was promoted to the New Britain Rock Cats, formerly the Twins AA affiliate.
His first season, they finished with the worst record in all of minor league baseball. He would continue as manager until New Britain and the Twins ended their relationship after the 2014 season.
But Smith is best remember for his benching of Miguel Sano in July of 2013 after Sano took 29 seconds to round the bases after a home run.
Fully supported by then-GM Terry Ryan, who was in attendance that night, it will be interesting to see how Sano reacts to Jeff Smith’s hiring.
Smith’s duties, beyond coaching first base, will include assisting Joe Vavra with coaching up the catchers and base-running.
Pickler’s hiring as major league coach is interesting given that he’s coming from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system, a system the Twins are obviously intrigued by currently given the ongoing trade talks concerning Brian Dozier.
Pickler has been with the Dodgers for two seasons, as an assistant in the scouting department for professional players, and in player development.
With the Twins, he will help with outfield coaching and in the new era of analytics, he will be helping coaches and players alike with game preparation and in-game strategy. He will join Vavra on the bench to help manager Paul Molitor on alignment, substitutions, and other in-game options.
Because he will don a uniform and help out in the dugout during games, the Twins had to deactivate one of their coaches for game duty. Major league rules state only seven coaches can “suit up” for games, plus their manager.
Molitor (1), pitching coach Neil Allen (2), Vavra (3), Pickler (4), hitting coach James Rowson (5), 3rd base coach Gene Glynn (6), Smith (7), and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado (8). The odd man out is their only Latin American coach, assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez.
Hernandez will take the field during pregame, especially around the batting cage. During the games themselves, Hernandez will be up the tunnel in the clubhouse working with players in the indoor batting cage and video room going over their at-bats.
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With the coaching staff in place, the Twins coaching staff can concentrate on prepping for Spring Training in just a couple of months. The only question will be, who is going to be playing second base on Opening Day?