Twins fill coaching vacancies

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan announced today that he had filled the three open coaching staff positions by naming Tom Brunansky as the hitting coach, Bobby Cueller as the bullpen coach and Terry Steinbach as the bench coach and catching instructor.

Brunansky who had a 14 year big league career played for the Twins from 1982 – 1988 and has been a hitting coach for AA New Britain in 2011 and AAA Rochester this past season. The 52 year-old Brunansky also played for the Angels, Cardinals, Red Sox and Brewers replaces Joe Vavra who will serve as the 3B coach and infield instructor in 2013. Vavra has served as the Twins hitting coach since 2006.

Cueller, 60 has only pitched in 4 big league games (Texas Rangers in 1977) but he pitched in the minors for 11 seasons from 1974 to 1985. Cueller just wrapped up his ninth season in the Twins’ organization and fourth consecutive as the Red Wings pitching coach after serving as Double-A New Britain’s manager in 2008. Cueller has also served as a major league coach for the Seattle Mariners in 1995-1996, the Montreal Expos in 1997-2000, the Texas Rangers in 2001 and for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006-2007. Over the years Cueller has coached Cy Young award winners Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and is credited with teaching Johan Santana is change-up. Cueller also has a history with Carl Pavano. Cueller replaces Rick Stelmaszek who served as bullpen coach for five different Twins managers since 1981. The fact that Cueller is fluent in Spanish will also help the staff to better communicate with their Spanish-speaking players.

Terry Steinbach will take over the bench coach position from Scott Ullger. The 50 year-old former big league catcher spent part of 14 seasons with the Oakland Athletics (1986-96) and Minnesota Twins (1997-99), after playing college baseball at the University of Minnesota. Steinbach has been a guest instructor in spring training for the Twins for the last 13 years.I find it interesting that the Twins would give Steinbach who has not coached or managed in the big leagues the bench coach role that is normally given to experienced coaches and managers. Scotty Ullger will coach 1B and instruct the outfielders. Ullger has no big league outfield experience but he did play some outfield back in the minors back in the 80’s. Ullger has also served as the Twins manager in the past when the umpires have decided that Gardy needs a time-out, I wonder who fills that role now. I guess I just don’t see Ullger managing from 1B.

Rick Anderson will retain his pitching coach role and will be the only coach that will be doing the same job as he has done in the past. Over the past month or so Hall of Famer and former Twins DH Paul Molitor has mentioned that he would be open to a coaching role but GM Ryan quickly put a kibosh on that stating that “Molitor was not a fit at the present time” but no other reasons have been provided. My guess is that the Minnesota Twins who always like to project a squeaky clean image don’t feel that Molitor who has had substance abuse issues and other personal problems in the past fits in their plans at the current time. I personally have no issue with that and when I have observed Molitor during his spring training stints he seems to prefer to do his job and interact as little as possible with Twins fans who would like to spend some time chatting with him or getting his autograph. Heck, Tom Kelly spends way more time interacting with the fans then Molitor does. I asked Molitor to stop for a quick picture after spring training practice one day this spring and he acted like I asked him for 2 hours out of his busy schedule.

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