MINNEAPOLIS — Twins outfielder Sam Fuld planned on using Monday’s off day to explore his new city after he was acquired by Minnesota during the team’s latest road trip. Thanks to some help from Mother Nature, Fuld instead had three days to get acclimated to the Twin Cities.
Fuld, a seven-year veteran outfielder, was claimed off waivers by the Twins on April 20 and made his debut in a Minnesota uniform in Tampa Bay as he faced his former Rays club. So when the Twins finally returned home, Fuld, his wife Sarah, and their three young children had to quickly adapt to their new surroundings.
"It’s been crazy. I’ve never really gone through something like this in my career, just jumping on board in the middle of a season with a new team," said the 32-year-old Fuld, who began the year with the Oakland Athletics. "I’ve tried to enjoy it as much as I can and get to know these guys as quickly as possible. It’s been nice just to be out there and to play and to contribute."
Fuld’s first time in Minneapolis came back in 2010, but he wasn’t in town on a business trip. Instead, he, Sarah and their son Charles made the three-and-a-half hour drive up from Des Moines, Iowa, where Fuld was playing for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs at the time. During the All-Star break, the Fulds chose to pick a location they could drive to but had never been to before.
Minnesota was the destination they settled on, and they of course made a stop at the Mall of America and spent time exploring one of the lakes in Minneapolis. Little did Fuld know back then, however, that he’d one day call Minnesota his home.
That’s now the case as the Twins claimed him when he was designated for assignment by Oakland on April 12 after batting .200 in seven games with the A’s. Fuld had to wait for more than a week before finding another home, but Minnesota was happy to have him.
"Exactly what we thought and what we’ve seen against us," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We liked him, and now it’s just getting him more comfortable and acclimated to our baseball team."
That weeklong process after he was designated was baseball’s version of purgatory, and there wasn’t much Fuld could do during that time. He worked out on his own and tried to stay in shape both physically and mentally, knowing he’d soon land somewhere.
"It felt like a month," Fuld said. "It was tough. I stayed off the Internet as much as possible. . . . It was a long process, but I knew that eventually I’d have to put on the uniform."
Thanks to postponements on Sunday against Detroit and Tuesday against the Dodgers — plus Minnesota’s scheduled off day Monday — Fuld’s transition to Minnesota’s lineup has been a bit abbreviated. He’s played in just four games but has already managed to play all three outfield positions during that stretch. In those four games, he’s 8-for-17 (.471) at the plate with three RBI and a stolen base, drawing strong early reviews from his new skipper.
And with outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia still on the disabled list, Fuld will get plenty of chances to play in the coming days.
"We like him. He’s one of those exciting baseball players," Gardenhire said. "He can steal some bases and slashes the ball around and can play anywhere in the outfield. I think he’s going to be a big addition to our baseball team."
The Twins are Fuld’s fourth team in the majors since breaking into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs back in 2007. The former Stanford standout spent parts of three seasons with Chicago before joining the Rays in 2011. Fuld had perhaps his best year in the majors that season, stealing 20 bases, scoring 41 runs and playing in 105 games. Still, his OPS (on-base plus slugging) was just .673.
While it’s far too early to draw any conclusions from the handful of games in which Fuld has played with the Twins, is appears that he already feels at home in Minnesota.
"I’m always looking to contribute however I can," Fuld said. "I’ve been in various roles in my career. I feel comfortable doing whatever it takes."