March 18, 2009 – I was out watching the Twins practice on Tuesday and to be honest there was not a lot of the regulars around, most of them had gone on down the road to City of Palms Park to play the Red Sox. But Gardy was around and he and Tom Kelly were out on one of the back fields hitting ground balls to Nick Punto who would field the ball and throw to Matt Tolbert who was learning to play 1B under the tutelage of TK. They worked Punto and Tolbert pretty hard and they were very positive with their comments but when it was all done, Tolbert mush have asked for an assessment of how he did at first and TK didn’t mince words when he said that he did OK but he still had a long ways to go to make all the plays and to play 1B the way it should be played, typical TK. I don’t think TK does it to be mean, he just tells it how it is.
I am surprised at how TK tries to interact with the fans that watch practice by joking with them and just talking to them. He asked one of the kids that were watching, maybe an 8 or 9 year old to join him on the field during the practice and when the boy walked up to him, TK asked how many of these baseballs laying here on the ground here at 1B can you pick up? The little boy was pretty shy and kind of indicated he didn’t know so TK said, pick up as many as you can and carry them over to Gardy over there. The little boy picked up about 6 balls and did as he was asked and when he got back to TK, he is told to grab another armful and again deliver them to Gardy. When the little boy comes back again, TK asks, are you good for one more trip? Again the little boy carries more baseballs over to Gardy. Apparently bored, the little boy then decides that he has had enough and walks off the field, without a baseball. I would have thought that for all that work he could have at least gotten a practice baseball; I guess you have to learn at a young age that life is not fair.
As Gardy walked off the field he stopped for some pictures and autographs and chatted with the fans, in no apparent rush. I got a good picture of Gardy that I will put on my picture site soon. After he finished up with everyone I walked with Gardy as he was leaving and I asked him if he could tell me who had surprised him with their play this spring. He said that Danny Valencia was hitting very well and had caught his eye and he said that outfielder Dustin Martin had played very well and was really running around out there before he hurt his shoulder here recently. Then Gardy said he had to hustle and get over to City of Palms to play the Sox.
Most of the AA and AAA players had gone to Port Charlotte to play Rays teams so there were not many high level minor leaguers around either. I did get a chance to watch Aaron Hicks, the Twins first round draft pick last year hit a little BP and he hit a few line drives but he is certainly not a power hitter, at least at this stage of his career. I also watched him running the bases a bit and he does appear to be very quick and pretty athletic.