February 26, 2009 – Yesterday I decided to go out to the stadium about 10 AM and catch the Twins practice before their home opener on Wednesday night against the Red Sox. When I got there I found a few fans and no players, none at all, not even anyone playing catch on the back fields. A lesson learned I guess, but without access to the Twins inside scoop like the regular press has it can be a hit and miss proposition sometimes.
But I don’t give up easy so I went out again this morning knowing that the Twins had an away game with Cincinnati so I was expecting to find a lot of the regulars left behind and that is exactly what happened. When I got there, Morneau, Young, Casilla, Cuddyer, Crede, Redmond and a number of others were taking batting practice. I guess these veterans had earned the right to skip some of the spring training bus rides. So there was no Gardy to run the show but TK was keeping things moving.
The Twins bring in some of their past stars to do a little spring training coaching and today I saw Rod Carew and Paul Molitor. When they players and coaches leave the field they usually have to walk through a gauntlet of fans looking for autographs and pictures. Most of the players and coaches stop, chat with the fans a little, sign some autographs, pose for some pictures and move on, but not Mr. Rod Carew the Hall of Famer. Today Carew just blew past everyone and his eyes never left his shoelaces and he didn’t utter a word. He reminded me of someone walking through a dairy barn barefoot making sure they didn’t step into a “cow pie”. Geez what a grump, Carew was a good player and maybe he is a good coach but he still lacks basic human relations skills that would make him one of the Twins fans favorites. Maybe I just caught him on a bad day….. Paul Molitor, who is not exactly as outgoing as Harmon Killebrew at least stopped, signed and posed for some pictures. Even TK who I always thought was a major grump as a Twins manager stopped and chatted with fans and posed for a picture with some kids. Believe it or not, he told the kids to smile, who would have “thunk” it? But you know who stayed out there the longest and signed until the last fan was satisfied? It was Justin Morneau; he must have been out there for a good half hour signing everything in sight and posing for anyone that asked. How cool is that? You know he was ready to call it a day and get in the clubhouse but he stayed out there until all the cards, balls, and bats were signed even when he knew that a number of them were for going to be put up for sale before the ink had dried. That is why Morneau is such a popular player; he knows how to treat his fans the right way. Thanks Justin, I was very impressed.