For the past 11 months or so, Bill Evers has had the same routine: He’d wake up, eat some breakfast, take an hour-long walk around the development where he lives in in Palm Harbor, Fla., help his grandkids with virtual school, eat lunch, more school, dinner and then another walk, this one for about a half-hour.

When the Twins were on, he didn’t miss a pitch.

He did this from March 13, the day after MLB suspended spring training last year, until the day he reported to spring training this year.

Now entering his 45th season in professional baseball, there was perhaps nobody more excited to report to camp this spring than Evers. The Twins sidelined Evers, a major league coach who primarily works with the catchers, last season over COVID-19 concerns.

But those same concerns have been alleviated this year because Evers, 67, has now received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“I was looking forward to this from the first day when the Twins wanted me to stay home and protect me from the virus, which I really respected on their part,” Evers said. “That took a couple weeks to get over. It wasn’t easy but I managed after a while to understand their point of view and everything because I wanted to be with the guys and everything but this year, I was really hoping that I would be able to be with the team for the entire year.”

While away from the team, Evers did his best to stay in touch with the catchers — Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers and then-Twins catcher Alex Avila — and the members coaching staff, though he felt like he could have made a bigger impact helping them get through tough situations in person.

This year, he has that opportunity, and his experience is especially necessary with bench coach Mike Bell away from the team right now as he battles kidney cancer. Evers, a longtime manager, has experience doing that job — he was the Rays’ bench coach for two seasons in 2006-07 under Joe Maddon when Rocco Baldelli played for the Rays.

“Having Bill rejoining the group, it’s something we needed. We’re going to need many members of our group to pick up in different spots for us because of Mike not being here,” Baldelli said. “I think all of our guys know that, understand that and are certainly up for the challenge, but adding Bill back with the experience that he brings … Bill’s done many different things in the game, frankly, and he brings a ton to the table.”

In Evers’ absence last year, Bell stepped in and was working with the catchers. Now back, Evers will resume that role. Garver said he was happy Evers has returned, calling him a steady presence in the clubhouse.

“Some would call him a father figure. He’s a guy that’s been around the game for a long time. He’ll let you know what he’s thinking at any point in time,” Garver said. “ … He was good for me in ‘19 because we worked well together. He was there for me every day when it came to receiving drills, blocking drills, game calling, anything involving catching so he was a big part of my ‘19 and I’m happy to have him back this year.”

Garver’s certainly not the only one who shares that sentiment in the Twins’ clubhouse. And as happy as they are to have him back, Evers is even happier to be back.

“I’m just ecstatic to be back and even though Garver said I was the old guy, I might be old, but I’ve still got a lot of pep in my step,” Evers said.