Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey knew Shelton from their time in Cleveland. Falvey joined the organization as an intern in 2007 and said the main thing he remembered about Shelton was his incredible work ethic as hitting coach.
"It's an exciting day for us to find somebody who can impact our culture, our coaching staff and, most importantly, our players," Falvey said. "We searched throughout baseball and talked to a number of people around the game about this position. Derek's name came up very early on, and as we got deeper and deeper, it became clear he was the best fit for our organization."
Shelton said he had a goal of becoming a bench coach after 12 years as a hitting coach and felt like the Twins were a good fit, especially after meeting with Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and manager Paul Molitor during the interview process last week.
"I think the one thing that was appealing was the culture that's being created," Shelton said. "We saw it last year with them being a playoff ballclub. Sitting down with Derek, Thad and Paul and being able to go over their vision of not only the team but the organization moving forward was exciting to me. After the interview process, I was hoping I'd be a part of it. I think you're definitely looking at an organization on the rise."
Shelton said he believes his work as a quality-control coach helped him prepare for this role, as he was involved in more facets of the game than ever before.
"The job description was fairly fluid," Shelton said. "Day to day, there was analytical stuff and advance scouting reports. I helped with hitting because that's my background, but I integrated into defense more than I had at the Major League level. And there was relationships with the Minor League coordinators about developmental roles. The job itself was ever-changing, and I looked at it as growth for me, especially because the bench-coach role was something I was looking to transition into."
Shelton's coaching career began with the Yankees in 1997, and he served as manager of the Gulf Coast League Yankees from 2000-01 and Class A Short-Season Staten Island in '02. He won the league championship twice and posted a winning record in all three seasons as manager, going 121-73.
Barring any unforeseen changes, the move should complete the 2018 coaching staff for the Twins. Garvin Alston replaced the dismissed Neil Allen as pitching coach, while Shelton takes over for Vavra, who left to join Ron Gardenhire's staff in Detroit as quality control coach.
"It's a new personality, and we'll take the time over the offseason and Spring Training to make sure we're on the same page in terms of responsibilities and what to expect," Molitor said. "My goal is to integrate Derek into the field coordinator job in Spring Training, and then during the season, he'll be a big part of the interplay between Derek and I. The bench coach is the guy I use the most on a day-to-day basis."