Simply Baseball Notebook straight from the source May 2002

  Catching Up With Bobby Kielty 

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If you were brave enough to navigate the terrain that has been Bobby Kielty's career, you would need a Hum-Vee or another type of off-road vehicle. Following a rookie season that included three separate call ups and demotions, Kielty headed to spring training on a mission. He played well enough to earn a spot on the roster hitting well over .300 and showing power, but got caught up in a numbers game and was sent down to AAA Edmonton in favor of Brian Buchanan and Dustan Mohr. Things can change very quickly, however, and when Buchanan was placed on the disabled list Kielty found himself back in the big leagues less than a week into the season.

Following his roller coaster 2001 season, Kielty continued his adventure in the Dominican Republic playing winter ball. He played well and called the experience a "confidence booster." Being in a different area of the world helped Kielty ignore the contraction rumors and kept him focused on getting prepared for 2002.

"I didn't really know what was going on," Kielty said about contraction. "It was kind of stressful - I didn't want to see us get contracted"

After a rookie season in which he hit .250, the switch hitting Kielty felt he needed to improve at the plate, "My left handed hitting, that is what I really needed to work on," he explained. "I didn't hit real well when I was up here in the big leagues (in 2001) left handed especially. I am naturally right handed, but I've been hitting left handed enough long enough that I should have it figured out by now."

Kielty's hard work paid off quickly, on April 14 he hit a pinch hit, game-tying, upper deck, home run from the left side of the plate off Detroit's Matt Anderson in the 8th inning. The blast propelled the Twins to an eight run inning and a 13-7 victory.

Kielty credited his father for molding him into a switch hitter. He is also one of a handful of major leaguers that do not wear batting gloves. That combination coupled with his wholesome looks and red hair led to some good natured ribbing by Twins legend Kirby Puckett who called him "Mickey Mantle" at spring training in 2001. Kielty shied away from the comparison, seeming embarrassed he claimed it was "no big deal."

Kielty hopes to stick in the big leagues in 2002 in any capacity, but realizes life in professional baseball isn't always fair, "It's just a matter of producing," he said, "you put the numbers up, and whatever happens is going to happen."

Bobby Kielty is one those guys you can't help but root for. He is humble, plays hard, is sound fundamentally, always hustles, and has a refreshing down-to-earth personality. Many in the Twins organization and in the media are touting prospect Michael Cuddyer as the Twins right fielder of the future, but don't count out Kielty whose versatility and all-around game will make it hard to keep him off the field.

-David Zingler

-photo by Sebastian Vannavong

*FEEDBACK*

Kielty's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

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