Happy Birthday–September 25

Pat Malone (1902)
Phil Rizzuto (1917)
Johnny Sain (1917)
Sal Butera (1952)
Glenn Hubbard (1957)
Geno Petralli (1959)
Tony Womack (1969)
David Weathers (1969)
Oscar Munoz (1969)
Wil Nieves (1977)
Joel Pineiro (1978)
Rocco Baldelli (1981)
Vance Worley (1987)
Ben Rortvedt (1997)

Right-hander John Franklin Sain did not play for the Twins, but was their pitching coach from 1965-1966. He was born in Havana, Arkansas and signed with Detroit as a free agent in 1936. He was in Class D for four seasons, the best of which was the last when he went 18-10, 3.27 in 1939. He was let go after that season and signed with the Boston Braves. They sent him to Class A for two seasons, then brought him to the majors in 1942. He was fairly mediocre that year, pitching mostly out of the bullpen, then missed the next two years due to military service. When he came back in 1946 he was a starter, and a great one. He won twenty games four of the next five years, had over twenty complete games in four of the next five years, and averaged over 273 innings in those five years. He was famously part of the 1948 pennant winning Braves whose rotation was “Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain,” although their third and fourth starters, Bill Voiselle and Vern Bickford, don’t appear to have been all that bad. That 1948 season, in which he pitched a league-leading 314.2 innings, appears to have taken something out of him, because even though he won twenty games again in 1950 he was never the same pitcher. He was traded to the Yankees late in 1951 and did have some good years with them, years in which his innings were limited by pitching in as a reliever part of the time. In 1954 he was used exclusively in relief as their closer, although the term was not in use at the time. He pitched 77 innings in 45 games, posted an ERA of 3.16 and a WHIP of 1.05, and led the league with 22 saves. That was his last good year, however; when he got off to a poor start in 1955 he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics and was released in mid-July, ending his playing career. After his career he became a pitching coach for Kansas City (1959), the Yankees (1961-1963), Minnesota (1965-1966), Detroit (1967-1969), the White Sox (1971-1975), and Atlanta (1977, 1985-1986). He was known for emphasizing throwing and de-emphasizing conditioning exercises such as running, saying “You don’t run the ball over the plate. If running did it, they’d recruit pitchers off track teams.” His pitchers loved him, and were often successful under him, but he frequently clashed with managers, which is why he moved around a lot. In 1985, he was on the same coaching staff as Leo Mazzone, who later became a renowned pitching coach in his own right. Johnny Sain passed away on November 7, 2006 in Downers Grove, Illinois, and was buried in his home town of Havana, Arkansas.

Catcher Salvatore Philip Butera played for the Twins from 1980-1982 and again in 1987. He was born in Richmond Hill, New York and was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1972. He was never a strong hitter in the minors, and spent nearly four years in AAA. He had a good year in 1979, however, hitting .297 at AAA Toledo, and made it to the big leagues with the Twins the next year. Butera was a backup catcher for the Twins from 1980-82, hitting for a fair average, drawing a decent number of walks, and providing no power whatsoever. Near the end of 1983 spring training, the Twins traded Butera to Detroit for Stine Poole and cash. He was in AAA Evansville for most of 1983. He again batted .297 at AAA, but got only five at bats with Detroit. Released after the season, he signed with Montreal. With AAA Indianapolis most of 1984, Butera won the backup catcher job with the Expos in 1985. He batted only .200, however, and was traded to Cincinnati after the season in a multi-player swap. Butera was the Reds’ reserve catcher for 1986 and early 1987, but was released in May. The Twins re-signed him three days later. Butera batted only .171 for the Twins in 1987, but went 2-for-3 in the ALCS and got a World Series ring. Released by the Twins in March of 1988, he signed with Toronto, which is where he finished his career in 1989. He also played for the Orlando Juice in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association. As a Twin, Sal Butera had 489 at-bats spread over four seasons. He batted .233/.303/.274, hitting one home run (off Dave Schmidt) and driving in 40 runs. He has done some minor-league managing and scouting, and was the bullpen coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998. Sal Butera is currently a scout for Toronto. His son, Drew Butera, played for the Twins from 2010-2013.

Right-hander Juan Oscar Munoz appeared in ten games for the Twins in 1995. He was born in Hialeah, Florida, went to the University of Miami, and was drafted in the fifth round by Cleveland in 1990. Munoz was in the Cleveland organization for two seasons, pitching well at Class A, but not as well for AA Canton-Akron as a 21-year-old. In late March of 1992, Munoz was traded along with Curtis Leskanic to the Twins for Paul Sorrento. He had a good year for AA Nashville in 1993, but that was pretty much where he topped out. He had high ERAs with AAA Salt Lake in 1994 and 1995, but he had winning records, and it was a hitters’ league, so the Twins called him up for the last two months of 1995. He appeared in ten games for the Twins, making three starts. He again had a winning record, going 2-1, but had a 5.60 ERA in 35.1 innings with a 1.61 WHIP. The Twins put Munoz on waivers after the 1995 season, and he was taken by Baltimore. He was in AAA Rochester all of 1996, never making it back to the big leagues, and his playing career ended after that season. He managed Class A Bakersfield in 2003.  At last report it appeared that Oscar Munoz was a building automation specialist for Inspection Experts, Inc., but it could not be determined with certainty that it was "our" Oscar Munoz.

Outfielder Rocco Dan Baldelli did not play for the Twins but has been their manager since 2019.  He was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, went to high school in Warwick, Rhode Island, and was drafted by Tampa Bay with the sixth pick of the first round in 2000.  He started slowly in the minors, but his career took off in 2002, when he went from Class A to AAA.  He began 2003 as the Devil Rays' starting center fielder and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting,  He remained the starting center fielder in 2004.  In both years he put up solid batting averages, but did not walk much and had only moderate power.  His playing career went downhill from there, due mostly to his physical condition.  He missed 2005 with a shoulder injury which required Tommy John surgery.  He came back in June of 2006 and had the best year of his career, batting .302 with an OPS of .871.  Still just twenty-four, it was thought that big things were ahead.  Instead, he suffered a debilitating illness which was eventually determined to be channelopathy.  He was able to play in just 63 games for the Rays over the next two seasons.  A free agent, he signed with Boston for 2009 but again could play in just 62 games.  He signed back with the Rays for 2010, but played in just ten games before finally having to accept the fact that his physical condition would not allow him to continue as an active player.  His career numbers are .278/.323/.433 in 2065 plate appearances.  He worked for the Rays in scouting and player development from 2011-2014, was a coach for them from 2015-2018, and became the manager of the Twins in 2019.  His team won the division that year and he was named American League Manager of the Year, the youngest man ever to win the award.  His team won the division again in 2020, but had a poor season in 2021 and will have to do well over the last ten days of the season to avoid finishing last.  Still, it appears that Rocco Baldelli's job with the Twins should be secure for next year.

Right-hander Vance Richard Worley pitched for the Twins in 2013.  Born and raised in Sacramento, he attended Cal State--Long Beach and was drafted by Philadelphia in 2008.  He did very well in Class A that season, struggled some when promoted to AA in 2009, but did better when he repeated AA in 2010.  He made his major league debut that year, making one start in late July and then getting a September callup, and did quite well.  He started 2011 in AAA but spent most of the season with the Phillies and had an outstanding year, going 11-3, 3.01, 1.23 WHIP with 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings.  He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman.  He was not nearly as good in 2012, but still wasn't awful, going 6-9, 4.20, but with an alarming 1.51 WHIP.  In December of 2012, the Phillies traded him to Minnesota with Trevor May for Ben Revere.  Worley was placed in the Twins starting rotation at the start of the year and was dreadful, going 1-5, 7.22 with a WHIP of 1.99.  Sent to AAA in late May, he did somewhat better, but still not very well, going a deceiving 6-3, 3.88 with a WHIP of 1.41 in nine starts before being shut down due to injury.  The Twins sold him to Pittsburgh in March of 2014.  He started in AAA but came up to the majors in mid-June, was placed in the starting rotation, and pitched very well, once again looking like the pitcher who impressed people with Philadelphia in 2011.  He started 2015 in the Pirates' rotation but was moved to the bullpen in mid-May.  He has did a good job for Pittsburgh in long relief, but was waived after the season and selected by Baltimore.  Used mostly out of the bullpen, he again did a solid job in 2016.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Washington for 2017 but was released in late March.  He signed with Miami a few days later and was sent to AAA, where he was used as a starter.  After eight starts, which were not all that good, he came up to the Marlins in late May.  Used both as a starter and in relief, he did not get much accomplished in either role.  He signed with Cincinnati for 2018, was released in early April, was signed by the Mets, and was released again in late June after four poor starts in AAA, although it appears that he may have been pitching through an injury.  He did not pitch in 2019.  He signed with Somerset of the Atlantic League for 2020, but the Atlantic League did not play in 2020.  There was a rumor in August of 2020 that the Phillies would sign him, but it appears that nothing came of it.  He started 2021 with Kane County in the American Association and did well enough for the Mets to sign him and send him to AAA.  Unfortunately, it has not gone well for him there.  I never criticize someone for playing as long as someone will let him play, but it appears likely that it's time for Vance Worley to decide what he wants to do in the next phase of his life.

Catcher Benjamin Thomas Rortvedt came up to the Twins in 2021.  He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, went to high school in Verona, Wisconsin, and was drafted by Minnesota in the second round in 2016.  He progressed about a level a season, reaching in rookie ball in 2016, in low A in 2017, in high-A in 2018, and in AA in 2019.  He has never hit much--his highest batting average is .262 in a 2018 season split between low-A and high-A.  His highest OPS is .713 in a 2019 season split between high-A and AA.  He has split 2021 between AAA and the majors, coming up due to injuries to Mitch Garver.  He has continued to not hit, batting .169/.229/.281 in 89 at-bats.  He is reputed to be an excellent defender.  He turns twenty-four today.  He's young enough to improve at the plate, but there's nothing in his record to suggest that he will.  But there are good defense/no hit catchers who have had very long careers in the majors, so you never know.  If he can just get his average in vicinity of the Mendoza line, it's possible that Ben Rortvedt could be around for quite a while.

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