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Are smartphones and iPads ruining the Twins' clubhouse?

Torii Hunter says the Twins are too young, but LaTroy Hawkins thinks modern technology is hurting the clubhouse.
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Dance parties just aren't the same without Torii Hunter.

But maybe that post-victory Hunter-inspired controlled chaos will return now that Hunter, along with ex-Twins Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins, are special assistants in the organization.

GoMN Sports asked the guys Monday if there's a particular player on the roster who they see as the emotional leader of the Twins. Cuddyer and Hawkins looked to Hunter for the answer.

"I think the guys are too young," Hunter said. "They're still trying to find their own way. I always felt [Brian] Dozier is one of those guys who could do it. I'm not saying he's doing it, but I think he's one of the guys that can do it. He has the intangibles."

That means the likes of budding stars Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler aren't ready to be the next Torii Hunter quite yet.

"Before you can lead you gotta serve," Hunter said. "When I was in the clubhouse I always got to know my players. That's all about taking time and building a bond and relationship with them."

Hawkins blames phones

"You have to lead by example," Hawkins said. "We loved our teammates. We reached out to our teammates. We engaged our teammates. That's an aspect of the game that goes unnoticed – that I know the young players don't do. Everybody's into themselves, they're into their phones, they're into their iPad, into their music. We didn't have that so we actually engaged with each other all the time. That's a huge, huge plus when you can engage with your teammates."

In his first season as Twins manager, Paul Molitor put a ban on smartphones and tablets in the clubhouse beginning 30 minutes before the first pitch until the game was over. According to Sports Illustrated, ex-Twins lefty Tommy Milone said it was a good move because it forced interaction among teammates and kept players from sitting back in their lockers staring at their phone.

Twins boss saw it up close

Even new Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey buys into the idea that clubhouse culture can create success. He said it was a key reason the Cleveland Indians made it all the way to the World Series this season.

"That's a culture that is very unique and it's not in very many places, but I think it's a culture that can be bred," said Cuddyer, who helped develop a winning culture with the Twins more than 15 years ago.

Once that clubhouse culture is established, "it allows you to step on that field with that fire in your belly and that fire in your gut to go out and compete and do everything to win at all costs," Cuddyer added.

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