New Twins hitting coach Edgar Varela took some time before the holiday to chat with Kris Atteberry on the Twins Hot Stove Show. Here’s where you can find the entire episode. Varela made it clear he valued collaboration and his emphasis would be on hunting the good stuff.
The Twins announced Tuesday that Varela, the team’s minor league field coordinator the past two seasons, would be taking over as hitting coach. This is the 39-year-old’s first MLB coaching job, though he has joined the Twins for brief periods over the past two years.
Varela said he and former Twins hitting coach James Rowson, who took a promotion to become bench coach of the Miami Marlins, conversed often and share many of the same traits.
“I think it’s extremely important for players to be comfortable in their own skin and for them to be comfortable speaking to us and talking to each other knowing that we have their best interests in mind,” Varela told Atteberry. “So I think I have a lot of the same philosophies, in that aspect, with J-Row.”
Varela also stressed keeping things simple, connecting people together and putting good systems into place.
Prior to joining the Twins, Varela coached in the Pirates’ organization the 10 years. He mentioned former Twins catcher Tom Price as one of his biggest influences early in his coaching career with the Pirates. Varela was taught early in Pittsburgh that it was important in a world full of negative information to hunt the good stuff.
“I want to continue to hunt the good stuff,” Varela said. “Because things in this game, it’s difficult, and baseball’s just like life. We’re going to get hit right between the eyes and get humbled here and there. I want to continue to find those positive things that happen on the daily so we can continue to move forward, especially when we hit a bump in the road.”
Having had the opportunity to work with the top prospects in the pipeline, Varela is excited about 2020 and beyond.
“That’s the intriguing piece of this, it’s not the now. Yes, we’re working towards 2020, but what’s to come and sustaining the next few years with what’s to come, is super exciting for me,” Valera said. “Some of the young players that fans have heard about in the system coming up, it’s real. These guys are super athletes, they’re great kids, great young men.
“The Lewises, the Kirilloffs, the Jeffers, the Larnachs … those guys, they’re coming. So, again, we talk about the excitement coming for 2020 building off of 2019, but the future’s coming as well.”
As a player, Varela spent five years in the minor leagues and one more playing in an independent league. He was selected by the White Sox in the 31st round of the 2002 MLB Draft after playing his college ball at Long Beach State.
The Twins still need to replace former assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, who took a promotion with the Mets, and former bench coach Derek Shelton, who is now manager of the Pirates.
Here’s a link to that podcast one more time. Valera joins the broadcast around the 11-minute mark.
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