Overheard at TwinsFest: Granite Wants to Kick Yankee @!#
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsI 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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