MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minnesota Twins' search for a new manager is over as the organization officially welcomed Rocco Baldelli to Minneapolis Thursday.
Sources told Fox 9 late Wednesday night that the Twins would hire Rocco Baldelli as their new manager, a move that was made official at a press conference Thursday. Earlier this month, the Twins fired Paul Molitor after four seasons. The Twins later confirmed with a tweet Thursday morning with photos of Baldelli on a plane en route to Minneapolis.
Baldelli, 37, was previously with the Tampa Bay Rays as a field coordinator, working in the dugout with Ray manager Kevin Cash and the bench coach on a daily basis. He also was the first base coach.
Baldelli, a centerfielder, played seven seasons in the major leagues. He spent most of his time with the Rays, but played one season for the Boston Red Sox. He ended his playing career in 2010 due to health issues. He had a .278 career batting average.
Thursday, Baldelli told reporters he was "absolutely ecstatic" to join the Twins.
"It's an emotional time for me as well," he said. "It means a lot ot me. I take this job very, very seriously. I want to work with amazing people and I think I found a great group, a great partnership."
When asked about his managing style, Baldelli said he likes his players to have fun.
"I like players to be relaxed, confident, have some individuality and have fun," Baldelli said. "The guys that are relaxed and having fun on the field, they play their best."
Baldelli added that he "demands" that his players compete hard on the field, too.
When asked about analytics and the movement in baseball toward statistical trends, Baldelli said he would do anything to "put our players in a position to succeed."
"If we have better information to help our staff and the players, that's what we are looking for," he said. "It's an asset to have that information and have the ability to use it."
Finally, Fox 9's Jim Rich, who first broke the news Wednesday night, asked Baldelli about how a young manager like himself plans to earn respect from the players.
"It's your first job, everybody knows you're the youngest manager. How do you ge these guys to believe what you're telling them with limited experience?" Rich asked the new manager.
"I think you talk to them," Baldelli said. He later added, "I want to know what makes these guys tick and get the most of them on the field and off."
He also said patience will be an important part of the process.
"It takes time," he said. "It doesn't happen overnight."