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Twins Birthdays--June 30

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Al Newman (1960)
Mark Grudzielanek (1970)


Infielder Al Newman played for the Minnesota Twins from 1987-1991. He was born in Kansas City, attended San Diego State, and was drafted by Montreal in the first round of the June Secondary draft in 1981. He was not much of a hitter in the minors, although he did draw a pretty fair number of walks. After the 1983 season, he was traded to San Diego as part of a three-team deal, but in July of 1984 he was traded back to Montreal. He hit .282 at AAA in 1985, which got him about two months in the majors as a reserve infielder. He began 1986 with the Expos, and was in the majors to stay. He hit a home run that season, his only home run in the majors. After the 1986 season, however, he was traded to Minnesota for Mike Shade. His best role was always as a utility player. He was considered a good glove man who could play three infield positions well. On the other hand, his bat left much to be desired. His best year at bat was 1989, which was also the year he got the most playing time, but even then, he hit only .253 with an OPS of .643 (although with an OBP of .341). In 1991 he slumped to .191 with an OPS of .471, and he was allowed to become a free agent after the season. Despite his numbers, many fans were upset that the popular Newman was let go, especially coming off a World Championship season. As GM Andy McPhail explained, however, “Any way you look at it, .191 is still .191.” It turned out to be a wise decision; Newman played only one more season, with Texas in 1992, and then was done as a player. As a Twin, he hit .231/.306/.275 in 1,647 at bats. He remained in baseball after his playing career ended. Newman was a minor league manager for the Twins from 1995-1997 and 1999-2001 and a coach for them from 2002-2005. He became an advance scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. At last report, Al Newman lived in Savage, Minnesota and was special events coordinator for the AFLAC Kids Program. He is also the manager of the Alexandria Blue Anchors of the Northwoods League.

Infielder Mark Grudzielanek did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system for about three weeks in 2009. He was born in Milwaukee, went to high school in El Paso, and was drafted by Montreal in the eleventh round in 1991. He started slowly in the minors, but hit .322 at AA in 1994 and followed that up with .298 in AAA in 1995, which got him to the majors for a little over half the season. He became the Expos’ starting shortstop the next year. It was his best season as an Expo: he hit .306 and made the all-star team. He remained the Expos’ starting shortstop, posting solid batting averages but doing little else offensively, until the end of July, 1998, when he was traded to the Dodgers. He had a fine 1999, hitting .326, but then went back to being the player he had been with the Expos, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great, either. He shifted to second base in 2000, which is where he would play the rest of his career. Grudzielanek was traded to the Cubs after the 2002 season. He had a couple of good years as a Cub, hitting over .300 in both of his seasons for them. He signed with the Cardinals for 2005, hitting .294, then moved on to Kansas City. He was a Royal for three years, hitting .300, but could not find a job after the 2008 season. The Twins picked him up in mid-July of 2009 and sent him to the minors for about three weeks, then released him. He was quoted as saying the Twins had wasted his time, although no other teams were clamoring for his services. Grudzielanek signed with Cleveland for 2010. He hit .273 as a part-time player and was released June 10, ending his playing career, although he did not officially retire until February 23, 2011. At last report, Mark Grudzielanek as living in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
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