You know the name, now get to know the man. Boof Bonser made his Twins debut in 2006 after arriving along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in the A.J. Pierzynski trade and has won 15 games in less than two full campaigns.
Bonser recently shared some time to discuss how the potential departure of Torii Hunter would affect the club, the Twins rotation for next year, and why if you’re talking King Kong — Boof is there.
This past season, what area of your game improved the most and what will you be working on for next spring?
Actually, the mental game was the big part for me. Having a full year in and learning from our veteran guys, Santana and Silva. As far as things I’m working on, there are a couple things; the thing they don’t like was how heavy I was. I was a little bit heavier than I was last year, so that’s one of the biggest keys that they want me to work on so that’s what I’m going to try to do.
If Torii leaves, how will that affect the team both on the field and in the clubhouse?
First off, on the field and off the field he’s our leader, everybody knows that. On the field it’s tough because he runs around and it seems like he covers line to line, it doesn’t matter where it’s at, so it’ll be tough. And obviously you saw this year what he did with the bat — unbelievable home runs, stealing bags, doubles, anything —¬†clutch situations. Clubhouse, it won’t be the same just put it that way. Always coming in with a smile on his face, having a great time, and like I said it won’t be the same without him.
Last season Johan Santana had some harsh words for Twins management after the Luis Castillo trade. Do you feel the club could do a better job of keeping players to give you guys a better shot at winning?
It’s one of those where they thought that they got rid of a guy and tried to bring in a new guy (Alexi Casilla) to come in and try to take the role. But you couldn’t really do that with Castillo because he’s a veteran guy. He’s been there, he’ss done that. It’s tough, they made that move and I don’t know what else to say, that’s Twins management and they’re going to do what they want to do.
With Johan and a healthy Francisco Liriano how do you see Minnesota’s rotation shaping up for ’08?
Very good, actually. With Liriano going to be there and Santana going to be there, I don’t know about Silva, hopefully he’ll be back. Hopefully I’ll be back; I mean I’m still not guaranteed on nothing, but there are a lot of pitchers there that’s been there for a while and have some time now so we should be pretty good.
Do you ever pick Twins TV analyst Bert Blyleven’s brain for advice?
Oh yeah, all the time. Every time I see him walking through I’m asking him about something. How do you do this? How do you do that? So I’m always doing that.
When do you know you’ve got your best stuff, during pre-game warm-ups or not until you’re out on the mound?
Definitely not until you get out on the mound. There are times when I’m out in the bullpen and I feel like I have great stuff and then I get out there and get my brains blown in. Then there are times when I don’t have anything and I do pretty good so it’s wait to see when the game starts.
What were your thoughts on the conclusion of the Joe Torre era in New York?
You know, everybody knows they want to win, the Yankees always want to win but I don’t know, Joe Torre’s not out there playing the games. So it’s tough to say. I think that’s about all I got on that one.
Can anyone derail “Rocktober“?
That’s tough because I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve played against both those teams and they’re playing great baseball right now. I think it can be done, but what they have accomplished, the Rockies, is great for them but we’ll have to wait and see.
Best hitter in the American League?
Everybody (laughing). Manny. I think Manny is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever faced. It just seems like he knows what’s coming, where, how — it’s unbelievable. One of our guys on our team, (Joe) Mauer, he’s a very smart, disciplined hitter too, so there’s a lot of good hitters in the American League.
Alright, switching to some personal preference questions. Best grub in the Twin Cities?
Best food, you know I got a couple places — Capital Grille is pretty good and Benni Hannas is pretty good. Those are probably two of the best that I’m aware of.
Favorite town to visit on the road?
For me it’s the Devil Rays because I’m able to come home and check out my house and stuff like that, but I know my fiancee loves going to Chicago, so probably that for all the shopping and stuff.
All-time favorite movie?
For me, I’ve always been a King Kong guy, so I’m gonna stick to my guns and say King Kong.
You talking about the original, the ’70s remake, the new one?
I’m talkin’ the original, the middle one, to the one they just made. I mean, I don’t know why it was but that’s always been one of my favorite movies.
What’s in your Ipod right now?
Right now I have every thing from hip-hop to country to classic rock-n-roll.
The funniest Twin by far is Mike Redmond. By far. He does jokes, he says things and you’re stunned by it. You’re like “What’d you just say?” And it’s just hilarious.
Beer of choice?
Who says I drink beer? (laughing)¬†I like drinking Bud Light. That’s my beer of choice.
Finish this sentence: Next October the Minnesota Twins will be…?
In a playoff run for a championship.
Alright, Boof, thanks for your time and enjoy the off-season.
No problem, glad I could help.
Bonser photo: Avraham Bank