Friday the 13th was unlucky for Ryan LaMarre. Shortly after postponing that night’s game, the Twins optioned the outfielder to Triple A Rochester. So, while we may not be seeing LaMarre anytime soon, his surprising addition to the Opening Day roster and .500 average (4-for-8), provided an interesting side-note in the Twins 2018 season.
A second-round pick by Cincinnati out of the University of Michigan in 2010, LaMarre bounced between the Reds, Boston and Oakland organizations, picking up a handful of major league at-bats at each stop, before latching on with the Twins this offseason.
I caught up with the journeyman, 29-year-old outfielder on April 12, less than 24-hours before his demotion.
DZ: Well the season’s about, I think today, two weeks old. You’ve been home about a week, so what are your impressions so far?
LaMARRE: It’s an incredible facility. Target Field’s beautiful. Give the fans a lot of credit. I know the weather’s been miserable, but they’ve been coming out and supporting us. This team’s great. It’s fun to be around. It’s great chemistry. Great leadership in the clubhouse. It’s just fun to be around.
DZ: You had a really great spring training, obviously, or you probably wouldn’t be here. What kind of clicked for you this spring?
LaMARRE: I made some changes in the off-season just to try to shorten up, just to try to prepare for the role of those at bats that might be a little fewer apart. You don’t have a chance of getting a rhythm. You’re just thrown into a game and you’re going to have to compete. I really just tried to make some changes in that way and just become more efficient and more consistent with my swing.
DZ: When and how did you find out you made the team?
LaMARRE: After our exhibition game in Washington. I knew there was a possibility, but I hadn’t really heard anything definite. Right after the game, (Molitor) called me in and Derek Falvey was in there and (Derek) Shelton, our bench coach was in there. It was a pretty cool moment.
DZ: What’s the first thing you did after that?
LaMARRE: Called my wife. She was still down in Fort Meyers. She wasn’t sure whether she should book a trip to Rochester or to Baltimore for opening day, so we were pretty excited. She met us in Baltimore the next day.
DZ: Your parents after that?
LaMARRE: Yeah, they didn’t come here until the home opener. They had some kind of previous stuff with my sister that was on the schedule already. They came here for the home opener. They were super excited about that. Stayed for most of the home stand and just went back home, back to Michigan.
DZ: This is your first opening day roster, right?
LaMARRE: Yeah. I’ve been called up a couple times before, but never for opening day.
DZ: You’re off to a pretty hot start with the bat. How important is that when you’re a guy who’s on the fringe of the roster making the team and everything?
LaMARRE: You try to contribute any way you can. Any way, whether it’s a hit, whether it’s coming in off the bench to play defense, whether it’s running the bases. In the meantime, you just try to be the biggest cheerleader on the bench you can and just support all the guys. Getting off to a good start, even though it’s a small sample size, is awesome.
DZ: How much does that help your confidence?
LaMARRE: Yeah, I mean, obviously any time you’re getting results, baseball is a mental game, so any time you get those results, you can kind of see your work starting to show up here, it’s exciting.
DZ: You’re from Michigan, right? You’re kind of used to the cold weather, so this hasn’t affected you too much.
LaMARRE: Yeah. No, it’s been all right, although it has been pretty cold. It’s been okay. I’m more used to it than most people.
DZ: You played 29 games and had 40 at-bats coming to the season in the major leagues…Is it just kind of like a tease, just getting a little taste of it? How do you put that in perspective, I guess?
LaMARRE: Yeah, I mean, it’s always a dream to get to the big leagues. Then you figure out that staying here is sometimes the toughest part. You gotta find your team, your role, and just hope to get the opportunity. I think when I made the changes to my swing, that’s one of the things I had in mind, because in the past, I’d always played every day at Triple-A where you’re allowed to get into a rhythm with your swing and you can kind of make adjustments on the fly. But when you’re not playing every day, like I said, you’re throwing against usually guys throwing hard or after a few days you don’t have those at bats to get into a rhythm. Right from pitch one you have to be able to compete, and I think that’s kind of my goal for this whole off-season. Like you said, you see some good numbers in spring training, you get off to a good start, it gives you more confidence, for sure.
DZ: I read your wife (Whitney Taney) is from Edina. You have in-laws here? Family?
LaMARRE: Yeah. Her parents still live here. Both her sisters live out in Eden Prairie. She’s got some extended family, some aunts and uncles and cousins here, so I’ve been here many times. I’m familiar with the area. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful city.
DZ: That worked out really well for you then…
LaMARRE: It’s crazy. It really is crazy and funny, how all things worked out like that.
DZ: And she’s kind of like a local tennis legend, too, from high school.
LaMARRE: Yeah. She’s a star. She never lost a match in high school. It was incredible. I didn’t know that until our second year of dating. She’s a star, but she’s humble too.
DZ: Yeah, I read like 166-0 (at Edina High School), or something.
LaMARRE: Yeah. It’s just something unbelievable.
DZ: Do you play tennis too?
LaMARRE: I played against her a little bit. Of course, she just kicks my butt. It’s to the point where it’s like I’m getting a lesson while playing against her. She’s like teaching me and she’s beating me so it makes it worse (laughs).