CEDAR RAPIDS - Paul Molitor will be back in a major league dugout this season. It's been awhile.
The Hall of Famer was hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners in 2004 and was on Tom Kelly's staff with the Minnesota Twins in 2000 and 2001. In late October,áMinnesota General Manager Terry Ryan announced the 57-year-old St. Paul native would be back with the club.
He'lláhelp outáManager Ron Gardenhire with in-game strategy and will work with players on baserunning and infield defense.
"It's been a long time for me,"ásaid Molitor,áin town Monday evening as part of the Twins Winter Caravan and Cedar Rapids Kernels 18th Hot Stove Banquet at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel. "I thought a lot about it and didn't know if I would get another opportunity. I was resigned to the fact that I didn't want to leave Minnesota at this particular stage. I've got two relatively young children still at home, so to uproot them would have been difficult. But I always thought if the opportunity came again in Minnesota that it would be something I would be seriously interested in."
Molitor said Ryan approached him with that opportunity after the 2013 season ended.
"I knew MLB had expanded coaching rosters, and the Twins hadn't filled that position," he said. "Terry said that he and Gardy had discussions about me possibly coming on board. Got a chance to meet with Gardy during organizational meetings down in Florida, and we talked about the role and how it might work out. I talked to my family and thought it was a goodátime to jump back in.
"I'm happy Gardy has the confidence to bring me back. I am looking forward to it."
Molitor has been a baserunning and infield roving instructor for Twins minor leaguers since 2005. Heámade two trips to Cedar Rapids last season to tutor Cedar Rapids Kernels players.
The former Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays great actually got his professional playing start in the Midwest League with the Burlington Bees in 1977.
"Very personable guy, easy to talk to," said Twins pitcher Brian Duensing, who also appeared at the Banquet with fellow reliever Ryan Pressly. "We're kind of getting to know him on the bus (right now). It's fun to hear him tell some stories. I think we're looking forward to him being a staff member. He's going to help out the position players and hitters, but we can learn a lot from him, too, about the mental aspect of what a baserunner is thinking. Things like that. I think it's going to be a good addition for everybody."
Molitor was asked about last weekend's biggest baseball news that an arbitrator has suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez for 162 games for continual use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. He called the drawn-out saga painful to watch.
"I don't know if we'll ever, ever know the facts," he said. "I trust MLB that they have the power to get out real information. For them to act as swiftly and serverely as they did, shows that they're doing the right thing. I understand Alex has the right to his rebuttals and things ... I don't know if this is Alex's last game in MLB or not. I don't really calláthis a victory. It's really more sad than anything."
Here is the entire video interview with Molitor: