Bill Evers, a member of the Rays staff since their 1996 launch of minor-league teams, is leaving to join new manager Rocco Baldelli in Minnesota.
Evers, 64, was hired Wednesday as the final member of Baldelli's major-league staff, handling catching instruction and other duties working with bench coach Derek Shelton, another former Rays staffer.
Having spent 2006-07 as Joe Maddon's bench coach then returning to minor-league duties most recently as a field coordinator, Evers said he was not anticipating an opportunity to go anywhere, much less back to the majors.
"Never in the plans," he said Wednesday. "It's a pretty cool opportunity. And it really speaks well of the Rays' front office to allow this to happen."
Evers and his wife were headed out Tuesday to take their grandkids to the zoo in Tampa when he got a call from Rays GM Erik Neander telling him the Twins had sought and were granted permission to talk to him about a big-league coaching job.
Five hours later, after phone conversations from the zoo grounds with Baldelli, who played for him in the minors, and Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, Evers agreed to take the job.
"I was flabbergasted," Evers said. "Holy cow. … I'm really looking forward to the opportunity. Wow."
Though teams generally frown on allowing staffer who leave to bring others with them from their organization, they do make exceptions, especially when there is a promotion involved as in this case.
Evers played four seasons in the Cubs minor-league system after being drafted in 1976 out of Eckerd College, then went into minor-league coaching/managing with the Cubs, Giants and Yankees before joining the Rays.
He managed the 1996 Gulf Coast League team that played the first game in franchise history, then moved up to the St. Petersburg team in the Florida State League in 1997 and then spent a very successful eight years managing Triple-A Durham before joining Maddon's staff. After being replaced by Dave Martinez in 2008, Evers worked as a scout and adviser for two years then went back into uniform in 2010 as a minor-league field coordinator.
He managed Baldelli at Durham in 2002, and worked with him during Baldelli's stints as a Rays special assistant from 2011-14 and as a coach 2015-18.