The interview was finished, but Eddie Rosario still had something on his mind as he sat at his locker stall.
This was spring training 2015. Rosario was a Twins prospect coming off a season in which he served a 50-game suspension after a second positive test for drugs. Rosario told the Star Tribune that he had smoked marijuana.
The organization stood by him, and I asked Rosario during a clubhouse conversation about his second chance and his future. He answered in English, his second language, but he seemed uncertain with his words.
I wandered to another part of the clubhouse after the interview. Rosario called over Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse, who asked me to return to Rosario’s locker.
Rosario was worried his answer had gotten lost in translation and wanted to make sure he articulated his feelings accurately with the help of Morse and a translator.
“It’s my world, my life, and I’ve tried to change,” he said. “It was difficult for everybody, but I’ve got another opportunity. I work hard in the offseason, and when I come back here I try to let everybody see me again.”
The Twins left fielder has made good on that promise. And he doesn’t need to win a fan vote for a spot in the All-Star Game to validate his career arc. He has become the Twins’ best position player and a foundation piece moving forward.
Rosario likely will need hanging chad irregularities to be triumphant in Final Vote voting this week, considering his large-market competition. Rosario deserves to be an All-Star, but snubs happen every year in every sport.
The fact that he is in the All-Star discussion at all is a testament to his maturation and also the team’s acceptance of his risk-reward exuberance as a player.
“People change,” Rosario said. “In my time here I learn a lot. Right now I have goals I’m working for — something special that I want to do in my career.”
Rosario is the type of talent that Major League Baseball needs and should showcase. Young, athletic and exciting to watch because he doesn’t play conventionally.
Teammate Brian Dozier described Rosario’s style as “chaotic,” which was a compliment. Rosario has improved his plate discipline, but he’s still a free swinger at heart, capable of hitting balls and strikes alike. He takes chances on the basepaths and is itching to steal home.
Rosario’s aggressiveness occasionally ends in a blooper, but so what? The entertainment value is always high when he’s involved because he plays stress-free baseball.
“How many times has he made decisions that maybe he’s the only guy on the field who would try it but they’ve worked out?” manager Paul Molitor said. “You have to probably give something to get something.”
Molitor notices substantive changes in Rosario behind the scenes. He sees a player more in-tune with game situations. Rosario asks strategic questions in the dugout now. If he screws up, he doesn’t need a lecture on what he did wrong.
“He’s just seeing the bigger picture so much better,” Molitor said.
“What I like is I rarely have to go to him with something he does [wrong],” Molitor elaborated. “It used to be, you’d have to explain it and he’d say, ‘But I thought I had a chance.’ I’d say, ‘Well, a chance isn’t good enough in that situation.’ Now he sees how a game works.”
The talent is undeniable. Those quick hands, the power, his strong arm in the outfield. He combines those traits with supreme confidence.
“He loves being a major league player, he loves to compete, he loves big moments,” Molitor said. “I think Rosie can get a hit off the best pitcher on the other team. You need those kind of guys.”
As Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton work to repair their games in the minors, Rosario has emerged as an organizational cornerstone. He encountered his own crossroads three years ago. He had to prove himself and win back trust. Now he’s a potential All-Star and fan favorite.
“Everybody accepts me, my talent, my personality on this team,” he said. “The fans show a lot of love for me. I appreciate that.”
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org