FORT MYERS, Fla. – When the Minnesota Twins signed right-handed reliever Matt Belisle to a one-year contract on Feb. 2, the move made sense from a baseball standpoint. Belisle pitched 46 innings for the Washington Nationals last year, posting an ERA of 1.76. The move also made sense for Belisle, who, at 36, is likely near retirement.
But how did Belisle end up in the Twin Cities? With a little help from his friends.
Former Twins players Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins recently retired, and both joined the Minnesota organization as special assistants. Likewise, both played with Belisle as members of the Colorado Rockies. So, when their old friend became a free agent this offseason, Cuddyer and Hawkins made a point of convincing him to play for the Twins.
According Mike Berardino of twincities.com, the pair used a soft approach to gently cajole the reliever into playing in Minnesota.
“Hawk and Cuddy reached out in a supportive way,” Belisle said. “They’re so closely removed from the game it’s almost like they’re my teammates still.”
As a crafty veteran, the Twins will expect Belisle to contribute to the team not just with his pitching, but by helping the team’s younger players as well while they develop their games.