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By Gordy Jones
You might have noticed that Scott Ullger is no longer coaching third base for the Twins. That’s former bench coach Steve Liddle who’s now waving the boys home – and Ullger is now the bench coach for the Twins.
The reason for the switch: Scott Ullger’s career goal is to become a manager in the major leagues. After missing out on several opportunities last year, he learned that with all of his experience, even some minor league managing experience, teams rarely hire a third-base coach to manage in the majors. Being a bench coach for Gardy will give him more hands-on experience, and a better chance to get a job as a major-league manager within a few years.
The Twins are being very accommodating to Scott. He was drafted by the Twins in 1977 and spent six years in the minors and 35 days in the majors. He then turned to coaching. He learned his craft with various clubs, but was hired by Gardy in 1995 and has worked hard and been loyal since. However, I don’t think he’s the candidate to replace Ron Gardenhire whenever Ron calls it quits (maybe in four or five years).
None of this is official; none of it comes from any source. This is only my gut feeling, from the observations I’ve made hanging around the Twins organization.
I think the Twins would love to see Ullger succeed somewhere, but I believe Joe Mauer’s brother, Jake, who is a brilliant minor league manager, will take over when Gardy decides he’s had enough. I have talked to Jake about my hunch several times, and although he has never confirmed it, he admitted it would be really cool working, traveling and coaching brother Joe. He said that he has a long way to go before anything like that could ever happen — but I can’t help but notice that while Jake is managing in spring, there’s often Twins brass observing him — whether it be Bill Smith, Terry Ryan, Tom Kelly, Jim Rantz, or Paul Molitor. I’ve even seen Gardy poking his head in.
Back to Third
I talked to Steve Liddle and asked for his thoughts about his new position as
third-base coach, but the big, easygoing guy from
They Come and Go
It’s odd seeing
former Twins in different uniforms. At spring training, I saw Brendan Harris
wearing an Oriole uniform as he unsuccessfully fought for a spot on their major
league roster. I also saw former Twins utility player Denny Hocking in a
That’s what they do in spring training – give guys, even coaches, a taste of the big show. Twins first-base coach Jerry White shouted over to Hocking, “You should be pretty good at being a bench coach. You did nothing but sit on the Twins’ bench for 10 years!” They both had a good chuckle over that.
Also clad in a
I really thought it was strange the other night when I saw Matty Guerrier on TV, wearing a Dodger uniform.
Players come and go, but after they put on a TC hat, it’s strange to see them in another. Sometimes, of course, they do come home. For example, Tom Brunansky, who was a Twin, and very popular with the fans and his teammates from 1982-88, and was part of the 1987 World Championship team along with Kirby and Hrbek, left Minnesota in 1989 to play with four other teams before finishing his career after the 1994 season.
Last year, he came
home! The Twins hired “Bruno” to be the hitting coach for the Twins’ Gulf Coast
Rookie League team, and this year he has been promoted to the Class AA New
Britain Rock Cats. It probably won’t be long until Tom’s up in
Pinch Hitters for Harmon
I was saddened when
I read that Harmon Killebrew wouldn’t be here to
throw out the first pitch at the Twins’ home opener, because of his chemo
schedule. Harmon is gallantly battling cancer of the esophagus. Although his
His former teammate
and pal, Tony Oliva, filled in for him, throwing the
ceremonial first pitch to Harm’s grandson, Casey.
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