Baseball notebook: LaTroy Hawkins takes next step in long career

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Here’s a trivia question you might not be able to answer correctly.

How many years did LaTroy Hawkins pitch in the big leagues?

To the casual baseball fan, that question might be answered with a question. Who is LaTroy Hawkins?

He was never a star, never made any all-star games and played with 11 different teams. He finished losing more games in his career than he won.

But that career lasted 21 years, and what a giant accomplishment, especially for a right-hander. That’s whether he wants to admit it or not.

“Other people make more of a big deal out of it than I do,” he said. “My career didn’t start off that great. I just grinded it out and made some adjustments. I put my head down, and when I looked up, it was 21 years later. Time flies when you are having fun, and I was having fun whether I was doing bad or doing good. It was always just a blessing to wear a uniform, and I wore 11 different ones.”

Hawkins has been in town this week working with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was hired this past offseason by the Minnesota Twins as a special assistant to first-year general manager Thad Levine.

His original intention was to be part of the Texas Rangers organization, but Levine left his position as assistant GM there to take the Minnesota job. It couldn’t have worked out more perfect, considering Hawkins, 44, was drafted by the Twins in 1991 and spent the first nine years of his major-league career with them.

“Keeps me in the game,” he said. “I can travel when I want to. I get to do some television in Minnesota on FOX Sports, do some analyst stuff. I get to do some pre-draft stuff, go around and look at guys we could eventually draft No. 1. I’ll do some trade-deadline stuff, a little bit of everything. Hopefully in two years, I’ll know which street I want to go down, what I want to go back to, whether it’s on the field or in the front office.”

The Twins also hired Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter as special assistants to Levine, harkening back to their past as they attempt to improve their future. Hawkins said his work with Kernels pitchers was more about the mental approach to the game than anything.

In case you were wondering, he also pitched as a reliever with the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays. His final big-league appearance came for the Jays in the 2015 American League Championship Series.

“I’m just giving back to baseball,” Hawkins said. “Baseball has given me so much. It’s OK to give back a little bit of what I learned.”

HOW THEY'RE DOING

Joel Booker (University of Iowa) — Outfielder had another torrid week, raising his batting average at low-Class A Kannapolis (White Sox) to .333 through Friday, with 12 RBIs in 25 games. Also has seven stolen bases.

Matt Dermody (University of Iowa) — Relief pitcher is back at Triple-A Buffalo (Blue Jays) after a recent MLB callup. Is 1-0 with a 5.40 earned run average in six appearances, one start.

Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier) — Right-handed pitcher has been sent to Baltimore Orioles extended spring training after experiencing a case of the pitching “yips” at Double-A Bowie. Had walked 11 in four innings.

Mitch Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier) — Righty starter threw seven two-hit shutout innings, with nine strikeouts, Friday night for high-A Bradenton (Pirates). Is now 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in six starts this season.

Derrick Loveless (Solon) — Outfielder got a promotion last week to Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays), where he is 3-for-12 with two RBIs in three games.

A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids Washington) — Six starts at high-A Stockton (Athletics) for the left-handed starter. Has 0-3 record and 5.31 ERA, though he has struck out 33 in 20 1/3 innings.

Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie) — Outfielder had a three-hit night for the Cincinnati Reds in a win Friday night over San Francisco. Continues to boost his batting average, which is up to .245. Has eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 28 games.

Eric Toole (University of Iowa) — Outfielder was assigned this week from Colorado Rockies extended spring training to low-A Asheville. Has gone 0-for-4 in one game.

Jake Yacinich (University of Iowa) — Shortstop has .182 average in 20 games at high-A Inland Empire (Angels), with two homers and six RBIs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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