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Former manager Paul Molitor still pondering staying with Twins

November 12, 2018

Joe Mauer’s news conference on Monday brought out a Who’s Who of the local baseball community, and a rare moment in which three former Twins managers were in the same room.

And, yes, that meant Paul Molitor, recently replaced as manager, was in attendance. Molitor sat in the same section as former skippers Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly as Mauer choked up a handful of times while formerly announcing his retirement after 15 seasons with the Twins.

Following the news conference, Molitor chatted with a number of Twins officials, including Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine — the pair who sought a different direction after Molitor went 78-84 in 2018. Molitor has been offered another role within the organization and, on Monday, it didn’t seem far-fetched to think it could happen.

With six managerial openings and, consequently, several coaching spots available around the league, Molitor had a chance to hook on with another club. But Molitor said on Monday that he didn’t actively look for another job.

“No, I didn’t really have any desire to do that,” Molitor said. “I’ve had a few conversations here, but nothing very substantive as of yet. I don’t think anyone feels any urgency, me or them. We’ll keep talking and see if something makes sense.”

Meanwhile, Falvey, Levine and new manager Rocco Baldelli have been working on assembling a coaching staff after several positions were created following Molitor’s removal. Bench coach Derek Shelton has agreed to return in the same role next season. He joins hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez as holdovers from last year’s staff.

In addition to hiring new coaches, some of whom may be announced over the next few days, the Twins have 40-man roster decisions to make and have holes to fill on the 25-man roster. With the winter meetings scheduled for Dec. 9-12 in Las Vegas, it’s possible that the Twins might not get to Molitor’s future until early next year.

“We’ll let the calendar turn and see what January brings” said Molitor, who didn’t rule out taking a year off. “I’m enjoying some down time.”

It would seem strange that a recently-fired manager would continue to work for the people who sacked him. But Molitor is a local icon, having starred at Cretin-Derham Hall and the Gophers before embarking on a Hall of Fame career. He spent 17 seasons in various roles within the organization, finally getting a chance to manage when Gardenhire was let go following the 2014 season.

That might be reflective of how the Twins operate. Molitor and Gardenhire were both at the news conference, and were dismissed as managers. Terry Ryan and Bill Smith, who each had runs as general managers, also attended the news conference.

It also could have been because — it was Joe.

“I’m glad it worked out,” said Molitor, who made his first comments since being removed as manager. “I wanted the chance to be one of the many who acknowledge Joe and his contribution. Obviously to the community, the organization and the effect he’s had on me.”

Molitor remembers watching a young Mauer blast home runs in St. Paul then tracking his development after the Twins selected him with the first overall pick of the 2001 draft. He’s admired Mauer through all his batting titles, the 2009 MVP award and how Mauer adapted after suffering a concussion later in his career.

“To watch what he was able to do here,” Molitor said, “year after year, and have a chance to manage him those last few years, it was very meaningful.”

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