News Column

Bobby Cuellar Speaks Spanish AND Baseball

Oct. 5, 2012

La Velle E. Neal III, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Steve Liddle, Rick Stelmaszek and Jerry White had a combined 60 seasons of experience as Twins coaches and were present during a run of six American League Central titles from 2002 to '10.

But all were victims of a shakeup after the club finished with the AL's worst record the past two seasons.

"It's not easy," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "They are loyal. They are hard-working. But in this business, sometimes change is a necessary evil. We have been more stable in this organization than any club in the game, I suspect.

"I just want to express my appreciation for the work those guys have put in over the years."

One day after announcing the moves, Ryan explained his decision Friday during a session with local reporters. Owner Jim Pohlad and President Dave St. Peter joined him, and the three also attempted to explain their offseason plans. Ryan said he would be working with manager Ron Gardenhire in the days ahead to fill the coaching vacancies.

Gardenhire has yet to comment publicly on losing some members of his staff. Ryan was asked how he went about getting the manager on board with the moves.

"All this decision-making has been made with Gardy's information," Ryan said. "He knows what's going on. He doesn't like losing friends any more than I do. He also knows it's a part of the business.

"He and I have made these decisions together."

Ryan acknowledged that three members of the staff at Class AAA Rochester -- manager Gene Glynn, hitting coach Tom Brunansky and pitching coach Bobby Cuellar -- are "legitimate" candidates to join the Twins in 2013.

"That's as far as we ought to go," Ryan said.

He also said that he spoke with Paul Molitor on Friday and that the Hall of Famer, a Twins minor league instructor and a coach under then-manager Tom Kelly in 2000 and '01, is not a candidate to join the staff.

"He is not going to be a fit," Ryan said. "I've talked to him about it. We have had the discussion, and I know he is interested."

There is a strong desire by the organization to hire a Spanish-speaking coach, which Cuellar is. Ryan pointed out that Twins infielders Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Florimon speak little English.

Some other subjects that came up during Friday's 42-minute session:

No more interim GM: Ryan officially took the interim tag off his title and said he is energized and ready to try to turn things around. "I'm going to be the GM in 2013 and go from there," he said.

Gardenhire's contract: Gardenhire is heading into the final year of his contract, but there will be no extension talks for now. "I explained that to Ron and he has accepted that," Ryan said, "and he said he doesn't deserve a contract extension. That's been discussed."

Payroll: Pohlad was asked if he is going to provide Ryan the money to sign quality pitching. "We have never told anybody that they have to spend X dollars and we have never told them that they can't spend whatever they are recommending," Pohlad said. :We've had a history of GMs that know that." The Twins had a $100 million payroll in 2012. Ryan has not been given a final payroll figure for 2013 but has been given some preliminary numbers.

Season tickets: St. Peter said the Twins' season-ticket base was around 23,000 this season and the next 30 to 60 days will help determine how close they reach to that number for 2013. One plus, he said, is that fans enjoy the Target Field experience despite being upset that the team has played poorly. "We are hopeful that we will land in renewals that will give us an upper-echelon season-ticket base," St. Peter said.

Pohlad on his disappointment about how the season went: "We sit up there watching those games," he said. "There is nobody more frustrated than I am. It's not fun. It just wrecks the whole summer. We have been involved in this for almost 30 years. We know there is not a magic wand. There are 20 other teams talking about the same thing. They all want to win just as much as we do. We just have to be a little smarter about it."



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Source: (c) 2012 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)