Molitor gearing up for new role as Twins coach

Hall of Famer's focuses will be baserunning, infield defense, in-game strategy

Molitor gearing up for new role as Twins coach

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- In some ways it still hasn't fully sunk in for Paul Molitor.

The Hall of Famer officially joined the Twins' coaching staff in late October, but with Spring Training still a month away, he hasn't had a chance to fully dive into his new position with the organization.

But that time is fast approaching, with Twins pitchers and catchers set to report in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 16, and Molitor can't wait to get back into his first full-time coaching role since serving as Seattle's hitting coach in 2004.

He went on Twins Caravan as they toured through Iowa on Monday to mark his first time on a caravan leg since his last season with the Twins in 1998, and he said it's another sign that baseball season is right around the corner.

"The closer it gets, the more I find myself thinking about what it's going to be like and what areas I can try to bring my teaching and experience," Molitor said. "I'm excited to get down there and get to work. Hopefully we can create a mindset that's more conducive to winning."

Molitor, 57, is already plenty familiar with the organization, having grown up in St. Paul and finishing his career in Minnesota from 1996-98 after an illustrious career with the Brewers and Blue Jays. He also was an on-field coach with the Twins in 2000 and '01 under former manager Tom Kelly and worked as a Minor League baserunning and infield coordinator for the organization from 2005-13.

In his new role, Molitor will be in charge of helping out with baserunning and infield defense while also assisting manager Ron Gardenhire with in-game strategy.

"In general terms from talking to [general manager] Terry [Ryan] and Gardy, I'll have a chance to handle the baserunning aspects during Spring Training, and defensively, I'll help with infield play," Molitor said. "With in-game responsibilities, I'll be in charge of positioning our infielders."

Molitor has already got a head start on positioning, as he met last week with Sean Harlin, the club's Major League video director, and Jack Goin, the club's manager of Major League administration and baseball research, to learn more about the club's video system and the advanced defensive statistics available for infield shifts.

The Twins haven't been a club that leans heavily on shifting aggressively in the past, but Molitor believes that baseball is trending that way and that it can help the Twins, especially given that the club has several ground-ball pitchers.

"The game has changed so much; we're seeing more overshifts and people not afraid to give up space based on tendencies, so it's something I'm excited about learning about and applying to the way we play defense," Molitor said. "They showed me the capabilities of not only pregame information but how we can use whatever data we have, including our in-house cameras at Target Field, to try to line up the defenses based on the pitcher's capability of executing pitches and the hitter's tendency of where they might hit the ball."

It's just one aspect that Molitor is looking forward to helping out with next season, and he believes he'll be comfortable in his new role given his familiarity with the team and many of its players. He's already well-respected throughout the organization and now will get his chance to show what he can bring to the Major League staff next season.

"It's definitely helpful I've been around a lot of these guys," Molitor said. "But the one thing that's different is that I haven't been around Gardy and his staff for a number of years, so I'll see how he wants to go about his business. Hopefully, I'll get a good feel during Spring Training, and I think knowing a lot of these guys in the past will be helpful. I'm excited to get down there."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.