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Overheard at TwinsFest: Granite Wants to Kick Yankee @!#

TwinsFest is a great destination for fans to gather, meet the players and maybe score a few autographs, but it’s also the source of a lot of great information. WCCO did an amazing job providing coverage from the event, and made tons of interviews available online. Here’s some of the quotes I found to be most interesting ...
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
I encourage you to check out the full interviews for yourself, there are hours of audio available online. All of the Friday content is available on the Sports to the Max page, Saturday’s interviews are on Steve Thompson and Eric Nelson’s page and the Sunday talks are on Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave.

Naturally, there were a lot of common themes that came up, one of which was getting to the playoffs and the team’s goals for next season. Let’s start off with my favorite quote from the entire weekend …

Zack Granite on playing the Yankees in the Wild Card game:
“It was a really cool moment for me, I had a lot of family there, but I’m tired of them now. I want to kick their ass next year.”

Jose Berrios on goals for 2018:
“When you taste a game like that – playoffs – you want to be there for the rest of your career. So now, we go to Spring Training with that expectation. We’re going to prepare our bodies and our minds for October.”

It was also really interesting to hear some of the pitchers touch on their past struggles, lessons they’ve learned and ways they approach the game

Kyle Gibson on his second-half surge:
“I really found my fastball. I found some trust in my fastball. I always had trust in the sinker, but I don’t know that I knew exactly what that meant. But then I found some trust in my four seamer as well. I think what that allowed me to do is use four seamers early, just throw the tar out of it all the time, and get ahead of guys with that. Everything played off of that a lot better.”

Ryan Pressley on routines:
“A lot of big league players will tell you it’s all about setting a routine. I didn’t even know how to set a routine until two years ago and I’ve been up here for a while. It’s finally starting to click and I was finally able to get stuff done. Last year when (Matt) Belisle came in, watching him go about his day was impressive. It was really fun to watch, and that’s why he’s got 12 years in the big leagues. He goes about his business and does it the right way. That’s what I want to learn from these guys (the new free agents) coming in here.”

Trevor Hildenberger on adjusting to the majors:
“You hear so much about the strike zone and how small it is and how small it can be for rookies. But ( Jason) Castro really made a huge impact stealing strikes for me, framing pitches. He was getting me calls that I thought I had no business getting. So the ability to frame pitches I didn’t realize was such a huge factor until I got to the big leagues.”

Trevor May on Tommy John surgery:
“(Ryan) Vogelsong, he gave me a really, really detailed rundown of the first couple months … He was like here’s some things you really need to focus on, things that worked for me and are the reason why I’m still going strong.”

And May on rejoining the Twins:
“If you’re doing your job. and where you need to be, it all shakes out in the end. It doesn't matter how quickly for me it happens, I just want to make sure when I’m here it’s go time and it’s not like ‘you’re rehabbing from Tommy John,’ it’s ’you’re part of the team Tommy John’s behind you.’”

J.T. Chargois on his health:
“I’m feeling good right now. I think that through spring training last year I developed a little mechanical glitch in my follow through and through a lot of video analysis I’ve broken that done and figured it out. So my arm’s doing well and I’m ready for spring.”

Zach Duke on his strengths:
“My strength is randomness. I throw from a couple different arm angles, I’ve got about eight different pitches and when I’m on I feel like I can throw any of them at any time”

It was also interesting to hear some of the hitters talk about adjustments and their approach at the plate.

Byron Buxton on adjustments:
“Not really being able to fail back in high school and in little league, it was very tough for me once I got up here. All the negative thoughts start coming, and that was a first for me. That’s what it took for me to realize I’ve got to make adjustments in this game and you’ve got to make some changes. Finally I got strong enough mentally to realize I can handle this and change my swing.”

Max Kepler on the mental side of the game:
“The mind is powerful, and it can get in the way of baseball, for sure.”

Brent Rooker on Brian Dozier:
“The whole thing about hitting to me is just trying to make your body work as efficiently as you can to get everything out of your ability and everything out of your strengths. So you look at a guy like Brian who’s maybe not the biggest guy, but who hit 40 something home runs a few years ago, who continually hits 25-plus home runs, he’s got to be doing something right. He’s learned how to use his body and use his swing and his mechanics to get the most out of his athleticism, most out of his strength, most out of his talents, which is something I really respect.”

Alex Kirilloff on the type of hitter he is:
“I try to be as well-rounded as I can. I’m not a real big mechanical guy. I focus a lot on timing and vision. That’s taken me a long way, I’ve worked on that from a very young age and that’s brought me a lot of success so far.”

And, of course, there was some great stuff from the coaching staff.

Manager Paul Molitor on dealing with personalities:
“We try to make these guys better, but whatever you want to call it — new generations, millennials — you have to try to find what clicks for them and what gets them going. I’ve done more millennial studying than you’d want to know about, to be honest with you, but you try to get in there and certainly the relationships are as important part of today’s game.”

Hitting coach James Rowson on the young hitters:
“They just need more at bats. The more experience they get, the better they get. So I think last year was a chance to give them a chance to fail, give them a chance to go out there and be themselves and not worry about what they do wrong but try to stay positive with them and let them do what they do right.”

And Rowson specifically talking about Buxton:
“It was never really about the leg kick in our discussions ... I always say ‘you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe’… If you’re not strong in your lower half, you’re not going to be able to execute that swing consistently. So what we talked about with him was just getting to a point where he was stronger on his legs. He could feel his legs and he could feel like he was grounded when he was going to take a swing. He started to feel that by eliminating the leg kick a little bit at first. It gave him the feeling that he needed … once he got that feeling, I told him ‘go out there and be an athlete and do the best you can. Don’t think about it, just go out there and react.’”

Outfield instructor Jeff Pickler on helping players improve:
“The neat thing about our outfield group is that it’s not so much what I’m telling them, it’s things they’re coming to us saying they want to do better.”

Pitching coach Garvin Alston on how he got into the business:
“I wasn’t sure if this was the direction I wanted to go in, or if I wanted to go back into teaching and doing things of that nature. So what ended up happening was a player, Andrew Bailey ... at that time (2008) was struggling through some things and we worked. And we worked hard. And in doing so, I saw him turn a corner and get better. And I said ‘you know what? This is fun, being able to help.’”

Third base coach Gene Glynn on Alson:
“He’s an up-beat, real positive high-energy guy. Really smart, very intelligent and organized.”

Glynn also pointed out that he was Alston's very first professional manager. He as at the helm of the Bend Rockies back in 1992, which also happened to be where Alston made his debut after being drafted in the 10th round earlier that year.

There was also some interesting talk of payroll and potential transactions, as you’d expect for this time of year.

Brian Dozier, responding to a question from Sid Hartman regarding a potential extension:
“I knew you were going to ask me that. I do want to stay here. That stuff takes care of itself. I’m sure we’ll talk in spring training just to see where both sides are at.”

Owner Jim Pohlad on the budget:
“We set an overall budget, we don’t sit down and just spend all the time just on player payroll … There’s just a number put in there and it’s not like ‘ok this is the number you guys have to spend, go spend it or not.’ We build in I would think a not conservative number for sure, a more aggressive number.”

Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press wrote in length about Pohlad and CEO Dave St. Peter's comments regarding Yu Darvish over the weekend.

If you went to TwinsFest, please share anything interesting you overheard, or your experiences from the event in the comments.

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32 Comments

Thank you Tom! Post of the year....thus far. Lol

But seriously, this is awesome! There is just so much interesting and telling stuff here to sort through. A few hilights for me:

1] Pressly in routines. We comment positively, and some to es negatively, on veteran signings and a veteran presence here and there. But hearing him talk about being a young veteran, and still learning about routine from Belisle is telling. You can find fault with Pressly, or the staff, but what I read is a guy "getting it" because he heard a voice from a veteran who he connected with.

2] Gibson, we saw a different version the second half. He changed his delivery and his workout routine. He got sent to the minors twice. He was quietly, but also publicly, chastised on the mound by Molitor. He always had good stuff and was reported to be a really good guy. But it seemed like his whole approach and demeanor changed the second half. And he speaks about his mental change here.

3] Rowson on working with Buxton just speaks so much to something a lot of have commented on previously; he just seems to have been a great hire and a guy who really understands the basics and kniws how to communicate them, and work with each player individually.

A lot of really good comments shared. Again, thank you!
    • glunn, Han Joelo, brvama and 8 others like this

 

Brent Rooker on Brian Dozier:
“The whole thing about hitting to me is just trying to make your body work as efficiently as you can to get everything out of your ability and everything out of your strengths. So you look at a guy like Brian who’s maybe not the biggest guy, but who hit 40 something home runs a few years ago, who continually hits 25-plus home runs, he’s got to be doing something right. He’s learned how to use his body and use his swing and his mechanics to get the most out of his athleticism, most out of his strength, most out of his talents, which is something I really respect.”

I like this man.

    • glunn, diehardtwinsfan, Carpetboy and 1 other like this
Maybe Granite will remember to step on first base this year.....
    • Ryan Atkins, Oldgoat_MN, notoriousgod71 and 1 other like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 23 2018 06:24 AM
Cool quotes. It was interesting what Rowson said about Buxton, "...go out there and be an athlete and do the best you can. Don’t think about it, just go out there and react.” Sometimes these guys just need to go out and play baseball every day, get the needed experience, and progress. Now, let's do the same with Kepler in 2018 against left handed pitching.
    • glunn, Carpetboy and bighat like this

Molitor's quote is great.  They all are really, but that one made me laugh, because I've heard it elsewhere.  I have a friend who owns several Lunch Box franchises, and all of her employees are millennials, and she had to do the same thing.

    • glunn, Carpetboy, PDX Twin and 1 other like this
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ashburyjohn
Jan 23 2018 07:39 AM

Molitor's quote is great.  They all are really, but that one made me laugh, because I've heard it elsewhere.  I have a friend who owns several Lunch Box franchises, and all of her employees are millennials, and she had to do the same thing.

I dunno. Molitor sounds about one step from, "kids these days, I tell ya, with their boomboxes and their crazy haircuts and their smart attitudes, I just don't know," and two steps from "get off my lawn".

    • Carole Keller, glunn, Hosken Bombo Disco and 4 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 23 2018 07:42 AM
Thanks Tom. Wonderful quotes. Lots to think about. I wonder if Hildy's quotes, while true, may come back to bite us if some umpires read them.
    • glunn, Tom Froemming and Doctor Wu like this

Thanks Tom!!! Great collection of quotes!!! I like the one from Buxton that he had never experienced failure before and just had to learn from it.Actually good quotes from all the young guys about the fact that its a process and that it just takes time to figure it out.

    • glunn and Tom Froemming like this

 

Thanks Tom. Wonderful quotes. Lots to think about. I wonder if Hildy's quotes, while true, may come back to bite us if some umpires read them.

Gotta agree with that assessment. Boasting about "stealing strikes" could indeed come back to bite you in the you-know-where. But I also agree with the other posters: an interesting, delightful article!

    • glunn, tarheeltwinsfan and bighat like this
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terrydactyls1947
Jan 23 2018 09:34 AM

Gotta agree with that assessment. Boasting about "stealing strikes" could indeed come back to bite you in the you-know-where. But I also agree with the other posters: an interesting, delightful article!


Good think umpires are blind. They won't be able to read this quote.
    • ashburyjohn, glunn, Carpetboy and 5 others like this

Fantastic stuff Tom thank you.I really enjoy hearing the younger kids show the respect towards the veterans.That tells me they are listening/watching how they approach their job.You don't last double digit years in MLB by mistake!I see 2018 as another year of significant progress in the younger players.Can't wait till it gets going.

    • glunn and Tom Froemming like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jan 23 2018 10:00 AM

 

I dunno. Molitor sounds about one step from, "kids these days, I tell ya, with their boomboxes and their crazy haircuts and their smart attitudes, I just don't know," and two steps from "get off my lawn".

 

that may be, but relating to millennials in the work environment is something a lot of organizations are dealing with... I'm sure the same was true for our generations, but it's honestly something I've never really thought about...

    • ashburyjohn, glunn and Oldgoat_MN like this

 

I dunno. Molitor sounds about one step from, "kids these days, I tell ya, with their boomboxes and their crazy haircuts and their smart attitudes, I just don't know," and two steps from "get off my lawn".

True, but I think a lot of us are like that ;)

 

    • ashburyjohn, glunn and Oldgoat_MN like this

Great write up Tom. I really love it especially since those are almost the exact same thing I tell my son on a daily basis. Of course he only "listens" when he hears it from Tim Hyers, the Red Sox hitting coach... sigh :banghead:

    • glunn and Tom Froemming like this
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Lenny Green
Jan 23 2018 10:15 AM

Thanks for doing the heavy lifting Tom!I was at Twinsfest Saturday, so saw a couple of these interviews.I wasn't going to be listening to the replays, so appreciate your work here.As an aside, Target Field just doesn't lay out well for that event- pretty claustrophobic while I was there.

 

Super excited about Rooker- the Twins need that bat sooner than later.

    • glunn and Tom Froemming like this
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ashburyjohn
Jan 23 2018 11:24 AM

that may be, but relating to millennials in the work environment is something a lot of organizations are dealing with... I'm sure the same was true for our generations, but it's honestly something I've never really thought about...

Early in my career (not a burger box store, but whatever) I worked for companies that did little to disguise that they hired young engineering types and expected a high turnover. It still was apparent which were the managers who "thought young" and could relate to us young-uns without a lot of effort, and which were not. A couple of the former, I kept in contact with for decades afterward - and I think they drew the best out of me, as opposed to a very few who operated in a more obviously judgmental/strict/negative-feedback mode.

 

There's nothing new under the sun.

    • glunn and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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ashburyjohn
Jan 23 2018 11:42 AM

Good think umpires are blind. They won't be able to read this quote.

Their seeing-eye dogs are remarkably talented however.

 

The way I have umpires pigeonholed, they would take a comment like Trevor's and say "like hell you got any gifts, we called 'em right every bleepin' time", and then would double down this coming season with called strikes for him on every borderline pitch. (j/k, maybe)

    • glunn and MN_ExPat like this
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Taildragger8791
Jan 23 2018 03:53 PM

It's interesting seeing the coaches, vets, and older prospects talk so much about perfecting or altering mechanics contrasted with Kiriloff's comments. I assume his position on that will change as he matures and faces better competition, unless he's just a natural "see ball, hit ball" wunderkind.

    • glunn likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jan 23 2018 04:59 PM

 

Great write up Tom. I really love it especially since those are almost the exact same thing I tell my son on a daily basis. Of course he only "listens" when he hears it from Tim Hyers, the Red Sox hitting coach... sigh :banghead:

Both Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins said similar things about their own kids during TwinsFest; that they'll listen to anybody but dad.

 

It's interesting seeing the coaches, vets, and older prospects talk so much about perfecting or altering mechanics contrasted with Kiriloff's comments. I assume his position on that will change as he matures and faces better competition, unless he's just a natural "see ball, hit ball" wunderkind.

I believe Royce Lewis said something along those same lines during his interview with Sid and Co., so it's possible maybe those really young and talented guys haven't really had to go deeper than that yet.

    • glunn likes this

I dunno. Molitor sounds about one step from, "kids these days, I tell ya, with their boomboxes and their crazy haircuts and their smart attitudes, I just don't know," and two steps from "get off my lawn".

yeah, I agree, he's getting there. Very encouraging. 😎
    • ashburyjohn and glunn like this

That Dozier comment sounds much more refined than when he was whining to reporters about the org not extending him before the season starts.

 

 

On a serious note, I've been saying since last fall that the biggest difference in Gibson was somwbodyntelling him to throw the 4 seam. I hope it's not a mirage, but it's good to read some first hand confirmation of what my eyes told me.
    • glunn and h2oface like this

Corey Koskie had a lot of pointed things to say about the differences between "then and now" when it comes to his children, athletics growing up, and how different everything is handled.

 

 

Was also fantastic to see him as he's easily one of my favorite Twins players.

    • glunn likes this
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ashburyjohn
Jan 24 2018 10:30 AM

Corey Koskie had a lot of pointed things to say about the differences between "then and now"

All these 40-and-up types, pointing out how things aren't like they used to be. They didn't used to do that back when I was a kid.

    • USAFChief, glunn and snepp like this

*Cue Granite getting beaned, bulldozed over, etc., in Yankees game next year, with no repercussions from the umpiring crew or the MLB.*


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