MINNEAPOLIS -- Spend just a few minutes listening to Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli talk about his team before and after games and it becomes clear the manager has a nickname for pretty much everyone.
There’s Gibby and Odo and Nellie, Rog and Garv and Louie. There’s Rosie and Crony and Big Mike. There is Schoopy —SCOPE-ee — and Polo and Kep.
This weekend, however, the players will go public with the nicknames they chose.
Players’ Weekend, which gives players the opportunity to be more creative with the names on the backs of their jerseys, returns for the third time. While last year’s jerseys provided colorful pop, this year’s will be either all white or all black.
Some of the nicknames are easy to figure out: Byron Buxton is rolling with “Buck,” and Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi, frequently referred to by their nicknames, will be “Gibby,” and “Odo.” Jake Cave is going with “Caveman,” Marwin Gonzalez with “Gonzo” and Ryne Harper with “Harp.”
Trevor May, an avid gamer and Twitch streamer, will don his username “IamTrevorMay.” It’ll be “Edisito,” over “Rosie” for Eddie Rosario, and “The Doof,” for Tyler Duffey. Lewis Thorpe believes his will be “Thorpey,” though given a do-over would have gone with “Thorpedo.”
Michael Pineda, listed as 6’7”, 280, chose “Big Mike.” Max Kepler will again wear “Rozycki,” his father’s last name. The German-born outfielder is named Maximilian Kepler-Rozycki, but uses Kepler, his mother’s last name, for his career.
Ehire Adrianza and Martin Perez will pay homage to their hometowns. Adrianza, who hails from Guarenas, Venezuela, has selected “Guarenero.” Perez will go with “El De Las Matas,” in honor of Las Matas, the small town in Venezuela where he grew up and now owns a ranch.
Perez said the town only has four streets and about 1,000 people.
“That’s where I feel so comfortable. That’s where I feel good and when you come from something small and then you make what I make at this point in my career, I mean I never am scared to say where I come from,” Perez said. “… I always have all my people from that town on my heart.”
A few nicknames were given to players when they were young. As a baby, Jorge Polanco was nicknamed “Chulo,” or “pretty boy,” by his uncle. He is still called that to this day.
“I like it,” Polanco said. “I grew up with it and it makes me remember back in the Dominican.”
Miguel Sano also got his nickname — “Boqueton,” which translate roughly to “big mouth” — in the Dominican Republic. He was 12, he said, and it was given to him by a coach. And while the nickname could also refer to his talkative nature, Sano said he was given it in a more literal sense, pointing to his lips.
Jose Berrios earned his nickname back home in Puerto Rico. He became “La Makina” after his trainer told him his work ethic was like a machine. While maquina is spelled with a q, Berrios has subbed in the K to signify strikeouts.
For a couple of players, it took multiple tries to get their nickname approved. Taylor Rogers, who went by “M. Rogers,” last year, has switched to “Lefty Piece.” This stems from the call down to the bullpen where assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is instructed to ‘Just get the lefty piece going,” Rogers said.
That’s what he went to after his first choice was shot down.
“I tried to do ‘Mr. Rogers,’ but it’s trademarked,” Rogers said. “Even though it’s my name.”
It took Sam Dyson three cracks at it — “Riddle Finger” and “Little Finger” came first — before getting “Red Finger” approved.
So, where does that even come from?
“I don’t know,” Dyson said. “I really have no idea. I was just like ‘Oh, this is funny,’ when I came up with it.”
Three more got their names from teammates. Luis Arraez said he got “La Regadera,” from Endy Chavez and Ronny Cedeno while playing winter ball in Venezuela. “It means basically the sprinkler, sprinkling hits all over the field,” he explained.
While playing basketball in 2008, Jonathan Schoop’s minor-league teammates gave him the name “Mamba” after Kobe Bryant, after whom Schoop tried to model his game.
“I wasn’t even close, but I was thinking I was Kobe Bryant,” he said.
Mitch Garver’s nickname, which has popped up on multiple T-shirts around the Twins’ clubhouse, is “Garv Sauce,” though the origin story is fuzzy. Someone in high school called him Garv and Garver and his friends used to use phrases like “cool sauce,” he said. Eventually, that got pushed together.
“Hopefully I stick around long enough to have it forever, have a lot of Players’ Weekends,” he said.
Sergio Romo opted for “El Mechon,” for multiple reasons. It’s a nod to his upbeat, walkout song with the same name that typically gets fans dancing on their feet. It also means padlock, he said, appropriate for a man with 129 career saves. And can refer to hair highlights, he said, and Romo at one point sported a mohawk with blonde tips.
“Every time I go to Mexico, it’s not Romo anymore,” he said. “They legitimately call (me) Mechon.”
In a somewhat surprising twist, Willians Astudillo, currently on a rehab assignment, had chosen to go simply with “Astudillo,” rather than “La Tortuga,” a nickname that caught on rapidly with fans.
And finally, there’s Nelson Cruz … or “Boomstick.”
Cruz received his nickname after starring with 2009 American League Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey in a 2K Sports commercial that was released in 2010. Bailey begins the commercial by throwing some flak Cruz’s way for never winning the award.
Cruz responds with sketches of himself as a stick figure holding a bat labeled “Boomstick,” showing a noticeably nervous Bailey, that he will take him deep when the two meet again.
“After the commercial came out, everywhere I go, people are asking me about it, if I brought my boomstick, where’s my boomstick? So, my teammates started calling me ‘Boomstick,’ ” Cruz said.
The nickname spurred the invention of the Boomstick hot dog, a two-foot monstrosity served with chili and nacho cheese. It originated when Cruz played in Texas but can now be found at Target Field. To this day, Cruz has not tried his namesake delicacy.
One more for good measure: As a collective, the group, which is on pace to shatter Major League Baseball’s home run record with more than 300, is the “Bomba Squad,” a nickname derived from a quote from Rosario in May.