Twins manager Rocco Baldelli sets the tone as team gathers for first time

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rocco Baldelli typically spends the entire offseason trying to figure out how he wants to distill his message to his team once they all come together again in the spring. By the time spring training rolls around, he’ll hunker down by the pool in Florida and spend an hour or two at a time tinkering with his speech, making sure he’s covering everything he wants to be conveyed.

Life with newborn twins and a 2-year-old meant the Twins’ manager didn’t have the luxury of arriving in Florida early and lounging by the pool to write his speech, instead devoting much of the past few days to working on it.

The main point of his message, which he delivered to the full group on Sunday?

“The team that adapts the best and makes the best adjustments in the present day in 2024, that’s the team that’s going to succeed,” Baldelli said. “You want to have something useful to say, and that’s what I landed on this year. We always say it’s a game of adjustments, but it’s never been more so than right now.”

Baldelli took some time to acknowledge last year’s team, a group that won the American League Central Division, snapped a playoff losing streak that stretched back to 2004 and made it to the American League Division Series before falling to the Houston Astros.

And then turned his focus onto this year, imploring his players to take everything they learned last year and transfer it to the upcoming season.

“I thought that was his best speech yet,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “I thought he did a really nice job of reflecting on, ‘Let’s take that experience, build off of it and see how we do it,’ and challenging each player to get better, use this camp to get better.”

It’s impossible to hit every topic, to delve into detail on everything he might want to cover in the amount of time he has the floor. But the most important things he wants to get covered certainly do.

And for a team that is once again projected to finish atop the division, winning is atop that list.

“Past couple of years, his message has been about, winning’s what it is,” catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “This team is about winning, whatever that takes, playing aggressive. But at the end of the day, winning baseball games is what matters. Summing up it all, everything else he kind of talked about was pointing to the fact of, ‘We’ve got to win games.'”

Twins forced indoors

A rainy day in Fort Myers forced the Twins off the fields at the Lee Health Sports Complex and into their indoors areas. Their scheduled first full squad workout took place entirely indoors as the Twins used the batting cages and covered bullpens to get their work in.

Position players split up, with the outfielders utilizing the indoors area at the minor league facility and most of the infielders staying on the major league side. Players used groundball machines to get their glove work in. Later in the day, Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis stood on water-logged turf and tracked pitches as Chris Paddack and Louie Varland threw in the covered bullpen area.

Now, the question will be what condition the field will be in when the Twins return to work at the park on Monday morning after consistent rain Sunday.

“I would much prefer to be outside and stretching these guys out on the field, but we can handle a day,” Baldelli said.