The Twins announced on Monday that they’ve hired Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants in the team’s baseball operations department. (La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last week that the trio would likely be hired in that very role.) Each of the three will be in Spring Training this year and will serve “as a resource for players and coaches in the mental and fundamental aspects of the game,” according to a team press release. The trio will also be visiting Minnesota’s minor league affiliates throughout the season, where they’ll work in an instructional capacity with the team’s young talent. Hunter, Cuddyer and Hawkins will also work with Twins executives and coaches “to ensure development in player understanding of culture, talent evaluation and organizational vision.”
At the introductory press conference for new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and new general manager Thad Levine, the latter spoke highly about the impact that former Rangers star Michael Young had on the organization upon joining the Texas front office in a similar capacity to the roles that Hunter, Cuddyer and Hawkins will be taking on with the Twins. While both Falvey and Levine were billed as more modern, statistically savvy executives to help bring the Twins up to speed in that department, the duo also emphasized the importance of veteran leadership and organizational culture in their first formal sit-down with the Twin Cities media. Today’s hirings certainly mesh with those principles.
Each of the three now-former players has retired within the past year, and each was a mainstay on the Twins’ roster at one point in his career. Hunter played parts of 12 seasons with the Twins, beginning with a one-game cameo in 1997. From that point through the 2007 season, Hunter won seven Gold Gloves and made a pair of All-Star Games. He cemented himself as one of the most productive Twins in franchise history along the way, and upon reaching free agency for the final time, elected to sign a one-year deal with the rebuilding Twins to play out the final season of his illustrious career back where it all began.
Cuddyer was a teammate of Hunter’s for most of that first run and enjoyed his own 11-year run with the Twins to open his career before testing free agency following the 2011 season. Cuddyer was a member of each of the Twins’ six American League Central Division Championships from 2002 through 2010 and drew praise in Minnesota, Colorado and New York for his clubhouse leadership as a player before retiring last winter.
Hawkins, whose hiring was first reported by Neal more than a week ago, spent the first nine seasons of his career in a Twins uniform after being drafted by the Twins in the seventh round back in 1991. He struggled as a starter for more than half of that tenure but blossomed as a reliever in the final four years of his time with Minnesota, serving as a dominant setup man for the first two of the team’s division titles.