The Twins announced that they have hired Hall of Famer and Minnesota native Paul Molitor as the successor to longtime manager Ron Gardenhire. Molitor, who has signed a three-year deal that runs through the 2017 season, will be introduced at a press conference tomorrow morning at 10am CT.
Molitor, 58, was seen as the favorite to land the position heading into the team’s managerial search. He served as a member of Gardenhire’s coaching staff in 2014, working with Twins players on baserunning, infield instruction/positioning and in-game strategy. He’s been credited as the primary factor behind the Twins’ much more aggressive adoption of infield shifting. As the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino wrote back in April, the Twins shifted 46 times through their first 15 games this season after shifting just 87 times as a whole in 2013. Said Molitor at the time: “Information has changed a lot. It’s what we have available to us to prepare for a team. Guys have to extend their comfort zones.” Molitor has also spent a season as the Mariners’ hitting coach (2004) and worked for more than 10 years as a minor league coordinator in the Twins’ system.
The Twins interviewed roughly 10 candidates for the position, but the three finalists have long been reported to be Molitor, Class-A Advanced manager (and former Twins first baseman) Doug Mientkiewicz and Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. Toward the end of the process, Lovullo and Molitor appeared to further separate themselves as the likely options.
Molitor was the third overall pick in the 1977 draft as a shortstop out of the University of Minnesota. He attended St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall high school — the same school that produced current Twins first baseman Joe Mauer. Over the course of a 21-year big league career, Molito batted .306/.369/.448 with 234 homers and 504 stolen bases. He spent the final three seasons of his playing career as a Twin, collecting his 3,00th hit in the hometown uniform and leading the AL with 225 hits in 1996 at the age of 39.
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