New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli believes giving players freedom brings out their best

One of the first people Rocco Baldelli called was Joe Mauer.
Publish date:

Rocco Baldelli was all business during his introductory press conference, held just hours after flying to Minnesota on a chartered jet after being hired to manage the Minnesota Twins. 

Serious in a suit, but once the uniform Baldelli wants to take things down a notch and let the Twins have fun. 

"I like to create a really good environment. I like to have fun," said Baldelli. "I like for the players to love showing up to that environment, to that clubhouse. When guys are relaxed and having fun out on the field, they play their best."

He added: "When you support the players and give them some freedom they respond very well to it. I think that when they come to the field they show up to work, they take ownership to whatever they're doing versus you regulating everything that they do." 

Baldelli's endearing personality is what won over Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine. 

"Part of what got him on the board was his resume, but what got him through the process was his person," said Levine. "He's willing to talk and to listen, I think that combination was extremely endearing to us." 

No experience, but plenty prepared

According to Twins Daily, Baldelli's brain is rock solid, so to speak. He scored a 1300 on the SAT and had a 4.25 GPA in high school. Despite his brain working at a high level, one of the traits the Twins liked about the 37 year old is his ability to admit when he doesn't have an answer, which will undoubtedly arise for a guy taking over a team for the first time in his eight years since retiring from the game at age 29. 

"The people there have prepared me to do anything," Baldelli said when asked about being groomed by the Tampa Bay Rays front office and coaching staff. "They've prepared me in every way to feel confident in myself, to go out into the world, whether it's baseball or not, to do whatever I want to do." 

Can relate to Buxton, Sano, Kepler

Baldelli might be the perfect guy to help turn things around for struggling youngsters Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, all of whom have the tools to become very good MLB players. 

Baldelli was the sixth overall pick in the 2000 MLB Draft. He was solid the first four years of his career before finishing year five with a .204 batting average, well below his career average. 

Baldelli said former Rays manager Lou Piniella basically told him to relax and reassured him that his job was in jeopardy, an approach he might end up using on Minnesota's struggling young stars. 

"I want to learn as much as I can about these guys and talk to people who've spent time around all of them," he said. "As I sit here right now I don't have any answers, I can only say that it is a process." 

Building a staff

Baldelli's immediate next steps are to put together a coaching staff, which he says will be "very diverse" and likely include coaches whose first language isn't English. 

"The construction of a staff is essential to a MLB team having success and creating environment and getting where we want to be," said Baldelli. 

Rocco talked to Mauer

Among the first people Baldelli talked to once arriving in Minnesota is Twins great Joe Mauer, who has yet to announce if he'll return for a 16th season or retire, although all signs point to him retiring. That said: 

"Everyone would like Joe Mauer to be part of the Twins organization going forward," Baldelli said, leaving everyone wondering what exactly that means. Mauer as a coach perhaps? We'll wait and see.  

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 5.09.01 PM

Defense witness: Cause of Floyd's death 'undetermined'

Dr. David Fowler, former Maryland chief medical examiner, said there were a number of possible factors that could have led to George Floyd's death.

Jorge Polanco

Red Sox sweep Twins in Wednesday's doubleheader

The Red Sox defeated the Twins 3-2 in Game 1 and 7-1 in Game 2.

Minnesota Wild

Wild score 3 power play goals in win over Coyotes

Mats Zuccarello scored twice in a 5-2 victory.

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 2.38.15 PM

Viral drone video of Bryant Lake Bowl to be auctioned off as NFT

Non-fungible tokens are the latest craze in consumer finance.

kimberly potter

Here's what the manslaughter charge against Kim Potter says

Activists are calling for more serious charges against the former officer.

Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz criticized for comments on 'thoughtful' use of tear gas

The governor is under fire for comments he made Tuesday as protests continue over the police killing of Daunte Wright.

Andrelton Simmons

Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons placed on COVID-19 list

Simmons is reportedly experiencing mild symptoms.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 8.53.07 PM

Kim Potter to be charged with second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Potter was a 26-year veteran officer before she resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Tuesday.


Rocco Baldelli named new manager of the Twins

Baldelli is 37 years old and this will be his first time as a manager.

Baldelli unveils possible Opening Day batting order

Max Kepler is leading off in Baldelli's lineup.

Miguel Sano

Sano nearing return, how will Baldelli change the lineup?

Minnesota is one of the most powerful teams in baseball without Sano.

Baldelli on Sano: 'He's made his body a priority'

Another year and another story about Miguel Sano's shape.

Rocco Baldelli

Twins' Rocco Baldelli wins AL Manager of the Year Award

Baldelli becomes the fourth manager in Twins history to win the award.

Twins finalize 25-man roster for Opening Day

Willians Astudillo and Tyler Austin both made the team.

Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli not convinced of intimidation factor at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees have knocked the Twins out of the playoff 5 times since 2004.