For years tons of Minnesotans wanted Hall of Famer (and local boy) Paul Molitor added to the Twins’ coaching staff because he’s always been touted as a great baseball mind and specifically an excellent base-running teacher.
This season the Twins finally added him to Ron Gardenhire’s staff and to hear Brian Dozier tell it at least, Molitor has already had a big impact. Dozier, who has 12 steals after totaling 14 all of last season, told Tyler Mason of FSN North:
To be honest with you, what’s kind of revamped everything has been having Molly on the staff. It’s been night and day compared to every other year, as far as dissecting pitchers, knowing exactly what they do, their tendencies, stuff like that. He has a five, 10-minute conversation with me before every game and every single thing that he’s got on film from the pitcher, tendencies, everything.
All of which is great, of course, although as a Twins fan it does make me wonder what took so long to actually get Molitor on the coaching staff.
As a team the Twins rank fourth in the league with 27 steals and have been thrown out just eight times. Last season they stole 52 bases all year to rank 13th in the league and Dozier went just 14-for-21. Molitor has also been tasked with handling the Twins’ defensive shifts, which are much more frequent and analytic based after a decade of relying mostly on Gardenhire’s eyes and gut feelings.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.