'Paulie3K' ready to meet 'LoMo' after Twins make big addition
JUPITER, Fla. — Twins manager Paul Molitor did a double take when informed Thursday of the nickname Logan Morrison has bestowed upon him: "Paulie 3K."
"Paulie what?" the manager said. "What's he go by, LoMo? I'll have to think of something besides that."
Molitor said he didn't exchange text messages with Morrison until the signing became official but was looking forward to chatting more in person on Friday morning, when the 30-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is scheduled to make his Twins spring debut at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In addition to Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who was Morrison's hitting coach in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Molitor has been encouraged by the scouting report on Morrison's personality makeup.
"I've heard a lot of really positive things," Molitor said. "I don't think he's introverted, which is kind of fun. You're going to have a guy who's going to make it fun and be visible and audible, and I hope his bat is very audible. That's kind of what I hope."
Morrison's spring locker was placed right next to that of Miguel Sano. Morrison, who played in Seattle for two seasons with Robinson Cano, Sano's mentor, should have a rapt audience among young Twins hitters.
"I think he's a guy that has tried to figure out how his swing and adjustments that he has made to make himself a better player," Molitor said. "I think his knowledge about hitting is on the rise. He had a couple years where he did OK. It seemed like he figured something out last year."
Molitor can see both sides of the argument when it comes to stacking Sano and Morrison in the middle of the lineup, with the potential for strikeouts being the downside, but there's no denying the new guy's power.
"He was dangerous," Molitor said. "You knew when he was coming up there. He's going to be a presence for us."
Molitor met with three players impacted by Morrison's arrival — Robbie Grossman, Kennys Vargas and Eduardo Escobar — to lay out the new competitive landscape. In particular, Grossman, who made 61 starts at DH last season, had a "very professional response" according to his manager.
"I told him, 'Don't change who you are. Control what you can control,'" Molitor said. "He said, 'I know I've got to earn what I'm going to get and I have to be able to play defense.'"
Both Grossman and Vargas are out of options. Grossman, 28, is due to make $2 million this season after avoiding arbitration, but that contract is non-guaranteed. The Twins could opt to go with speedster Zack Granite as their fourth outfielder and see what Grossman would bring in a trade.
Molitor said Grossman's defense is "something we're going to have to monitor somewhat" the rest of the spring. Outfield coach Jeff Pickler has been doing extra work with Grossman at the outfielder's request.
"He hunts Pick down almost every home day and wants to go do something extra," Molitor said. "He hasn't played a ton out there (this spring) but he's made every play."
Backup catcher Mitch Garver "tweaked his knee" on a defensive rundown in the first inning of Wednesday's split-squad game at the Houston Astros, Molitor said, and was undergoing further evaluation back in Fort Myers.
Garver stayed in to complete his scheduled five-inning stint but reported some stiffness in the knee after the game. Molitor said he "a little bit surprised" to hear that, and the Twins were still awaiting precautionary MRI results as of Thursday afternoon.
Veteran backup Bobby Wilson, a .214 career hitter in parts of eight big-league seasons, got the start Thursday at the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lefty Adalberto Mejia gave up a long leadoff homer to Marcell Ozuna in a two-run, four-hit second but sandwiched that frame with a pair of perfect innings. Mejia struck out all-star Yadier Molina to end his second spring start.
New Twins special assistant Jim Kaat made the drive down from his home in nearby Stuart, Fla., to take in batting practice. Kaat, 79, visited on the field with Triple-A Rochester manager Joel Skinner.
Infielder Ehire Adrianza hit a two-run homer a day after delivering a two-run double during this two-game jaunt to Palm Beach County. "He looks like he's put on a little muscle," Molitor said.