Twins add Paul Molitor to coaching staff

Published 4:51 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have added Paul Molitor to their coaching staff, assigning him supervision of the team’s base running, bunting, infield instruction and positioning as well as assistance with in-game strategy.

This is not some token job for a prominent, popular former player. All of those areas need a lot of work, so Molitor is going to be busy.

“He’s certainly got a history and knowledge and a high baseball IQ,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “There’s no doubt about that. It fits pretty good here.”

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The hire was announced Tuesday by the Twins, who finished 66-96 for the second straight season after going 63-99 the year before that.

“There’s really no part of the game that we can’t do better at,” Molitor said, adding: “I’m going to be able to work on guys who need to have a small-ball game, with the things they can do, with ways to score runs. I think that’s kind of a lost art. Guys worry so much about getting on base, but they forget how to score and how to pick up 90 feet. While it wasn’t horrible, I think it certainly could be better.”

Since 2005, Molitor has served as a minor league base running and infield coordinator for the organization. The last three of his 21 major league seasons as a player came with the Twins until his retirement in 1998.

The 57-year-old grew up in nearby St. Paul, attending the same high school where Joe Mauer later starred and then playing for the University of Minnesota before his professional career was launched with Milwaukee and extended with Toronto. The seven-time All-Star is one of six players in history with at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases.

Molitor was a candidate to be Minnesota’s manager in 2002 after Tom Kelly retired, but he withdrew during the unsettling process during which Major League Baseball tried to eliminate the franchise before being blocked in court. The job went to Ron Gardenhire, who has held it since then and received a new two-year contract last month. All of Gardenhire’s assistants were brought back, too, so the position for Molitor on staff is new.

“I appreciate that he’s respected my input in spring training when he’s had me come down there as an extra coach those first few weeks the past several years,” Molitor said. “We’ve talked again often. It’s going to be a chance for us to take that kind of to another level in how we’re going to work together, as me being as part of his staff.”

Gardenhire needn’t look over his shoulder, Ryan said. The idea to hire Molitor was Gardenhire’s, actually.

“Gardy has no reason to worry about his job,” Ryan said, adding: “I didn’t want to be perceived as hiring Molitor as a manager-in-waiting. That’s not true. We’re adding him to our staff to make us better.”

Molitor didn’t dismiss eventual interest in becoming a manager. But he didn’t sound ready to think about it.

“I’m sure there’ll be some questions regarding that. There’s been a lot of speculation even over the last season about Gardy’s potential future, and I just don’t think that I can really say anything other than this is going to be invaluable for me in terms of getting back into a major league situation and continuing to gain experience and maybe learning more about what I want my future to be,” Molitor said.

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe tweeted after the news was announced: “Wow, so stoked to see Molitor join our staff! He’s one of the most knowledgeable baseball men I’ve ever met.”

Ryan was glad to hear that.

“That’s kind of music to my ears because I’m hoping we can get Trevor going. He’s got the capability to be a pretty good player. This year wasn’t what we were hoping,” Ryan said.

NOTES: The Twins announced that closer Glen Perkins had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 1 on the medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee. He’ll be ready for spring training. … Molitor has served three seasons on a major league coaching staff: with the Twins as a bench coach under Kelly in 2000 and 2001 and as hitting coach for Seattle in 2004, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.