February 21, 1993: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1993.

On this date in 1993, pitchers and catchers had reported to Ft. Myers but position players were not expected for another four days. However, forty-one year old Dave Winfield, the big off-season acquisition for the Twins, reported to camp.  The only two regulars who were not in Ft. Myers by this point were Pedro Munoz (expected tomorrow) and Scott Erickson who was attending a wedding.

Winfield brought a first-basemen's mitt with him to camp despite having only played ten innings in his entire career - all in 1978 - at the position.  Tom Kelly told the media that he anticipated that Kent Hrbek would play 120 games at first base in 1993 with his other appearances being at DH while Winfield would play about 120 games at DH with his other games at either first base or right field.*  Winfield told reporters that he had not picked up a bat the entire offseason, but worked out often to remain in shape.

*Winfield would play just thirty-two innings at first base during the regular season.  Hrbek started 110 games at first base that year with David McCarty, Gene Larkin and Terry Jorgensen each making more appearances at first base than Winfield.

Winfield had driven in the game-winning run in Game 7 of the previous World Series for Toronto, and Kelly expected another strong offensive season from Winfield.  When asked if Winfield's performance would decrease because of his age, Kelly said, "If he had a decline last year from the previous year, then you might be able to say that. But he was in a good lineup and we feel we have pretty much the same kind of lineup, where he should be just as productive. Even if he does tail off a little bit, those would still be pretty good numbers."*

*While Winfield would record his 3,000th hit that season, his OPS dropped 100 points, his OPS+ dropped from 137 to 105, and his WAR dropped almost four wins to replacement level.

Besides the addition of Winfield, another hot topic was Tom Kelly's discussion about Kirby Puckett's future.  Kelly suggested that he might transition Puckett to right field over the course of the season.  In typical Kelly double-speak, he rambled, "I'd always consider it.  I'm going to talk to him about it.  If he wants to move I might move him.  But then I might not.  It wouldn't seem right.  It just doesn't seem like the Twins if you move him from there.  It's like a peanut butter sandwich - you're supposed to have jelly."*

*Kelly did eventually move Puckett to right field over the course of the season, and Puckett would start just three games in center field after 1993.  The move occurred over the All-Star Break as Puckett started just three games in centerfield over the next two months.  Curiously, he then shifted back to centerfield for his final sixteen starts in September.

The organization prided itself on its focus on simplicity and working hard.  Having won at least ninety games in each of the previous two seasons, and a World Series title, the Twins expected to compete in the AL West again.  Still, the front office conceded that its success hinged on young pitching.

"The top three [of Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani, and Jim Deshaies] I think will be fine," VP of Player Personnel Terry Ryan said. "Whether or not the other three guys [Pat Mahomes, Willie Banks, and Mike Trombley] will provide us with solid fourth and fifth starters is the big question. If they give us consistency at that four spot then we're certainly going to be competitive. Any time you throw our offense out there, then we're going to be OK."

The team also planned to realign the left side of its infield as Scott Leius attempted to shift from third base to shortstop while Terry Jorgensen would start at third base.*  The Twins also suggested that they were attempted to acquire Dave Hansen from the Dodgers to work into the third base logjam.  Discussing the rotation and lineup, Ryan explained, "We have some question marks on the left side of our infield, and we are awfully righthanded, both on the mound and with our bats.  But I think we'll show that if you can hit, it doesn't matter whether you bat right or left."

*Leius only played in eight games that season and Pat Meares took over at SS during the year.  Jorgensen struggled at third while splitting time with Mike Pagliarulo and Jeff Reboulet.

9 thoughts on “February 21, 1993: Random Day in Twins History”

  1. Puckett would start just three games in center field after 1993. The move occurred over the All-Star Break as Puckett started just three games in centerfield over the next two months. Curiously, he then shifted back to centerfield for his final sixteen starts in September.

    Looking at the game logs on b-ref, it seems that Mack's final game was 16 September, when he appeared as a pinch runner for Harper (who had pinch-hit for Munoz, go figure) in the bottom of the ninth. Mack stole second, but was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Kurt Abbott when he tried to score on a single by Stahoviak. Mack stayed in the game in left field, but b-ref has Reboulet pinch-hitting for jim in the bottom of the twelfth. Was Mack injured? He had played a substantial part of the season with a separated shoulder, so it's also possible the Twins just shut him down.

    Curiously, for three innings the Twins had two natural center fielders in the game, with Mack in left and Puckett in right, but you know who was playing center? Chuck Knoblauch, who played out there for five innings in total, his only career appearance in center.

    Interestingly enough, that was also the game Winfield got his 3,000th hit.

    1. That is awesome research, CH. My goal with these features is to really focus on the specifics of a given day while trying to tie up some loose-ends that extend beyond the day, but trying to remain "6 inches" above the day rather than "1,000 feet." Your post about Mack's likely injury definitely clarifies things quite a bit.

      1. I looked for confirmation via LexisNexis, but couldn't find anything about an injury, so I'm just speculating. But it certainly looks like he came out of that game suddenly, and that whatever it was ended his season. Adding to that, Mack missed all of April in 1994, so it makes me wonder all the more.

        1. Gleeman says "shoulder injury".

          For the first time in his career Mack was given a chance to be a true everyday player in 1992. Starting 150 games and playing primarily left field, Mack hit .315/.394/.467 with 16 homers and 26 steals to rank among the AL's top 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, and runs. He fell to .276/.335/.412 in 1993 and missed the first month of 1994 with shoulder problems, but bounced back to hit .333/.402/.564 to rank among the AL leaders in average and slugging.

          1. following up here and here.

            Both sources state that Mack separated his right shoulder in spring training 1993, eventually landing him on the DL at the end of the year.

  2. So I don't have much of a memory of 1993 (just 11 at the time) besides being really frustrated watching Dave Winfield swinging wildly off his front-leg. Anybody have any real memories of whether the season felt like a disaster following the highs of 1991-92 (like 2011) or if the downfall was not unexepected? Never in 100 years would I have guessed that Willie Banks had a 107 ERA+ in 30 starts that year.

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