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  • A 2023 Twins Perspective Right from the Dugout

    Ted Schwerzler

    The Minnesota Twins enter 2023 with arguably the deepest roster they have had in years. There is pitching. There is hitting. And, there are bench options to cover the spaces in between. Projection systems see them being better, and fans are excited to see it happen. Hank Conger, with a front row seat, sees it happening too.


    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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    Hank Conger has seen more than enough baseball in his lifetime. With nearly 400 major-league games under his belt, the bulk of which came behind the plate, the former first-round pick knows what he’s doing when it comes to assessing the game. Conger joined Rocco Baldelli’s staff before the 2022 season. He oversaw a team that raced out to a lead and then succumbed to injury. He also has seen a roster revamped by the front office and ready to go.

    I caught up with the Minnesota first base coach prior to Opening Day and picked his brain on what lies ahead for this squad. Here’s what he had to say:

    Twins Daily: As a former catcher, and being of the belief that catcher's make great coaches, what has translated best from your playing career to coaching?

    Hank Conger: I think the biggest thing as a catcher was understanding the personalities of the position players and the pitchers at that time, and being able to pick both sides' brains, really helped with constantly seeing different perspectives.

    TD: Although you're the Twins first base coach, how involved are you with catchers at the big league level and throughout the organization?

    HC: Right now, alongside being the first base coach, I do work with both catchers at the big league level. It’s really fun getting to see how the position at catcher has really progressed over the years.  Being able to work with Ryan Jeffers and Christian Vazquez has been really fun as they both bring such unique skill sets to the position while, both players continue to challenge themselves to get better everyday.

    TD: What challenges are there having turnover behind the plate this year? What is the most exciting thing Christian Vazquez brings to the table?

    HC: I think with any new player that joins a team it’s about being comfortable and being able to continue with what’s been successful for them, and to create that environment for that player. At the catching position, I think the biggest challenge is always being able to get familiar with your pitching staff, and being able to process data and reports, then being able to translate that onto the field for a pitching staff.  I think the most exciting part about Vazquez is his enthusiasm to accomplish that, which has gotten everyone excited during the spring and into the season.

    TD: Now in year two with this team, what is the biggest difference heading into this season from 2022?

    HC: I think it’s no secret that the one thing that has a lot of people excited is really the versatility of our roster and the flexibility it creates for certain players to get at-bats and matchups.

    TD: Injuries are a part of the game and sank a good start last year, but why is the 2023 team built to win and what has you most excited about this squad?

    HC: I think the thing that got most people excited during spring was the intensity that all the players had brought to the field day one.  And with the great leadership on the team ,the expectations and confidence that the players have shown has been phenomenal.

    TD: Lastly, regardless of record or finish, what is something you want to be able to say about this team when the year ends?

    HC: Baseball aside, being my second year here, the players here have all worked really hard to get to this point to start the season, and I think when you look around, the one common thing you can say about everyone is that it’s a great group of guys top to bottom. They’re gonna play hard and they’re gonna have fun doing it.

    This Twins team has a good chance to finish what they started last year. The front office did a good job providing security behind their starting lineup, and there are plenty of prospects close to providing help. If Baldelli, Conger, and the Minnesota coaching staff can get everything working together fluidly, we may see one of the better Twins teams in recent history.



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    He seems like a super nice, great guy. His BB Ref page says: 

    Full Name: Hyun Choi Conger

    Twitter: @PandaCrusher35













    He played with the Angels and Houston, so with Trout, Pujols, and Altuve. It would be fun to get some stories from Hank. 

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    I know it is only 1 game.  If Kepler can’t average above .250 what should they do?   I am np expert but I thought right field was typically a power hitter position.   I have read his defense is above average, but how many runs does he save in a season?   Worth a spot in the line-up if his hitting doesn’t improve.  There has to be something behind the scenes making it worth it.  He is very likable but not a real exciting personality.   

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    Time has changed from what used to be true power positions. 1st, 3rd,  corner outfield used to be power positions. 2nd, ss, cf and catcher used to be defense first. Not as true as it used to be. If Kepler can average 230 with 15 to 20 hr power his defense will make him a valuable player in any lineup. 



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    23 minutes ago, Dave Lemke said:

    Time has changed from what used to be true power positions. 1st, 3rd,  corner outfield used to be power positions. 2nd, ss, cf and catcher used to be defense first. Not as true as it used to be. If Kepler can average 230 with 15 to 20 hr power his defense will make him a valuable player in any lineup. 



    Sure would like to see Kepler move over .250 BA - I get that’s obvious. If he is struggling in May & Gordon/Larnach are hitting I see him sitting & Larnach playing right 80% of the time until the Trade Deadline.

    Larnach can hit 15 Hr’s from July - September playing RF daily. 

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    3 hours ago, Dave Lemke said:

    Until Polanco and Kirilloff get back they are going to need all hands on deck. Including Kepler playing right field. If you look at the league batting average from last year 230 with some pop and great defense looks pretty good!


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