Twins add Paul Molitor to coaching staff for 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said he was “a little bit
surprised” when Twins general manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron
Gardenhire reached out to him to join Minnesota’s coaching staff for 2014 .

He was likely in the minority of those surprised at Tuesday’s
news.

Molitor, who spent 21 seasons in the major leagues —
including three with the Twins — was hired as the seventh coach on Gardenhire’s
staff. The 57-year-old Molitor was approached by Ryan and Gardenhire after
Minnesota gave Gardenhire a two-year contract extension at the end of the
season.

Molitor didn’t have to hesitate. Minnesota has always been
home and remains that for the St. Paul native.

“My preference has always been to stay here with a
young family and everything. Minnesota’s where I’m the most comfortable,”
Molitor told FOX Sports North in a phone interview Tuesday. “I get offers
now and then in the offseason from different clubs. They make inquiries about
various positions, but nothing has been appealing enough for me to have left
what the Twins have been able to provide for me since I retired.”

Molitor’s last season in the majors was in 1998, two years
after he collected his 3,000th hit while playing with the Twins. He retired with
3,319 career hits, 234 home runs, 114 triples and 504 stolen bases in his 21
seasons with Milwaukee, Toronto and Minnesota. After retirement, Molitor joined
Twins manager Tom Kelly’s staff for two seasons and later went on to serve as a
hitting coach with Seattle in 2004.

Since that time, Molitor has spent the last decade as a
roving minor league instructor, hopping between each of the Twins’ minor league
affiliates to work with the young players. As much as Molitor enjoyed that job,
he’s looking forward to being with just one team for an entire season.

“It’ll be a different rhythm than I’ve experienced for
a decade,” he said. “I think to sink my teeth into one team for an
entire season will be something that will be part of the change that I’m
looking forward to. The minor league gig is great. You get to see a lot of
players at different stages throughout the season, but there’s not much
continuity.”

In his new role, Molitor will oversee base running, bunting
and infield instruction as well as some in-game strategy. Since he’s been
working in the Twins organization for the past decade, Molitor has a
familiarity with many of Minnesota’s current players.

That includes second baseman Brian Dozier, who worked with
Molitor this past offseason on his defense at second base. Dozier was making
the switch from shortstop to second, a position Molitor spent 400 games at
during his career.

“He’s been a huge help to me, not only as a second
baseman but just everything. He kind of changed the way I prepare, I guess, for
a game,” Dozier said. “We already have a really good coaching staff.
To add another good one only makes us better. …

“When you see Paul Molitor, Hall of Famer, you’re all
ears no matter what.”

Molitor now joins a staff that is trying to turn around a
team that has lost 96 or more games in each of the last three seasons.
Gardenhire’s entire staff from 2013 will return, with Molitor coming on board
as the seventh coach.

“I just want to be a part of a staff that hopefully can
start to create an atmosphere that’s conducive to winning,” Molitor said. “It’s
been tough with the young players and some of the things that we’ve had to
endure the past few years, but I think it’s a culture that we’re trying to
develop here. I think that will be as important as any specific base running
instruction that we can offer.”

When the 2013 season ended, it remained uncertain as to
whether the Twins would retain Gardenhire. Naturally, Molitor’s name entered
the conversation, despite the fact that he’s never managed at any level. But
his Hall of Fame credentials and his strong ties to the team and the state made
him a good candidate, in some people’s eyes, as Gardenhire’s replacement.

Now that Gardenhire is back for two years, Molitor said he
has no desire to manage right now. He’s perfectly happy with his coaching
gig.

“It’s probably one of those things still to be
determined. At different times I might have said no, at different times I might
have said yes,” Molitor said when asked about the prospect of managing. “I’m
just going to try to take this opportunity here and put everything I have into
it and see where it takes us. Hopefully it’ll be something that Gardy’s going
to be here a couple years, if not longer. I don’t want to really try to measure
what my interest in that would be. Right now I’m going to have plenty to do in
the role that I’m taking on.”

Notes: The Minnesota Twins announced Tuesday that outfielder Wilkin Ramirez has been outrighted from the 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

Additionally, the Twins announced that outfielder Darin Mastroianni and closer Glen Perkins both had offseason surgeries. Mastroianni had surgery on Oct. 16 to remove fixation hardware in his left ankle, which he previously had surgery on back on May 5. Perkins had arthroscopic surgery on his right medial meniscus. Both players are expected to be ready for spring training. 

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