Rocco Baldelli and Nelson Cruz have not yet talked about it. For now, just a look suffices.
At 37, Baldelli is entering his first season as manager of the Minnesota Twins. His designated hitter is Cruz, author of 360 major league home runs and proud recipient of a one-year, $14.3 million deal in Minnesota.
Cruz is 38.
“So far, it’s been an assumed thing,” Baldelli says of being younger than his DH. “We both know. I know that he knows that I know that he knows.”
Baldelli is not the first manager younger than his players. Heck, current Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch was younger than three of his players when, at 35, he took over as Arizona Diamondbacks manager in 2009.
Yet, Baldelli’s dugout debut, while far from a moon-landing moment of import, does mark a juncture in baseball history worth noting.
The Millennial Manager has arrived.
The generation that has vexed its elders perhaps more than any before it now can count a major league skipper among its population.
Baldelli was born Sept. 25, 1981, the first year of a millennial generation that stretches to 1996, according to Pew Research Center. Perhaps it means nothing, no more or less than whomever was the first Generation X – or Y – manager, or the first Baby Boomer to make the Hall of Fame.