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

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

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.  

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