MLB commissioner Rob Manfred checks in at Twins camp to gauge reactions to new rules


FORT MYERS, Fla. — Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred came to Twins camp on Friday to, among other things, gather feedback from the players about all of the sport’s new rules in effect this spring. So the Twins made it clear just exactly how they feel.

“I’d say it was pretty positive,” said Caleb Thielbar, the team’s player representative. “It’s going pretty good.”

OK, a showdown it wasn’t. But it wasn’t supposed to be, Thielbar said. Manfred, mindful of the bitterness of last spring’s 99-day lockout, is trying to listen to the players, understand their issues and answer questions.

“It was good to get in the same room,” Thielbar said, “and keep the communication open.”

The meeting included five active Twins, essentially the team’s veteran leadership minus Carlos Correa, who departed on Wednesday to be with his wife in Houston as they await the birth of their second son. Thielbar, who took over as player rep after Taylor Rogers was traded last April, attended the hourlong meeting with Byron Buxton, Sonny Gray, Royce Lewis and Jhoan Duran, a cross-section of players covering all ages, pay grades and experience levels.

The meeting was similar, Thielbar said, to one several Twins players had last September while the team was in New York, when Manfred invited them to his midtown office.

And what was the most interesting part of Friday’s get-together?

“We talked about RSNs [regional sports networks] like Bally Sports North, because obviously the players are affected by that,” Thielbar said of the impending bankruptcy of the television partners to nearly two-thirds of MLB teams. “What I took away from that was, the Twins are going to be on TV, one way or the other. So that was a good thing. He said they’ve been planning for it, and they’ll be ready if they need to [act].”

Solano to second

The Twins signed Donovan Solano last month with the intention of making him a righthanded option at first base. But with the team choosing to give Jorge Polanco’s balky left knee as much time to heal as possible, Solano has been playing second base, and will again on Saturday.

But that’s OK, the veteran infielder said. Second base is his natural position, where he has played 80% of his 439 major-league defensive starts and about half his starts in the minors, split with third base. “I’ve played a lot there, so I’m comfortable there,” said Solano, who at 35 is the team’s oldest position player.

He’s used the extra time to develop that comfort level at first base in daily drills, knowing that the assignment is coming once Polanco returns.

“As we practice continually, I don’t think I’ll say it’s hard to go back and forth,” said Solano, whose experience at first base amounts to six minor-league games and 26 last year for the Reds. “It’s new to me to play first base, but this has been a good chance to feel better there. I like it.”

Does he have a preference? “My preference is to be in the lineup, wherever they think I can help,” he said.


  • Matt Wallner and Seth Gray both homered, and pinch-runner Ben Ross stole home in the ninth inning as the Twins and Baltimore played to a 5-5 tie Friday evening in Sarasota.
  • With minor-league camp under way and minor-league games starting next week, the Twins will make their first round of cuts on Saturday, sending down a handful of players who were invited to big-league camp for the experience, not to compete for jobs with the Twins.
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