I took my third trip out to Hammond Stadium today and was greeted by the continuing resurfacing work being done there. I sure don’t know why the Minnesota Twins or the city of Fort Myers would be resurfacing the roads and the parking lots at the complex when spring training is starting and people are starting to show up and park their cars. Why didn’t they do this earlier? They also seem to be digging up some of the grassy areas around some of the practice fields and putting in some “large decorator rock”, I am sure they have a plan but …..
One of the first people I saw today was Star Tribune reporter La Velle E. Neal III going about his business and interacting with some of the players. I saw Liam Hendriks and Hudson Boyd do some throwing. After they left, Scott Baker showed up to throw a bit and brought his catcher along and it turned out to be Joe Mauer. That shocked me as in all the previous times I have ever attended spring training over the years, I have never seen Joe Mauer catching a pitcher before spring training starts. Heck, it is rare any time Mauer catches during ST, usually the team leaves that boring tedious task to the minor league catchers. Never the less Joe was out there today and he looked comfortable and actually seemed to enjoy himself.
I saw Tsuyoshi Nishioka and his interpreter one of the other fields getting in a little running and then calling it a day. The same crap as last year as far as I am concerned, Nishioka hardly ever joins the rest of the players until spring training officially starts and he has no choice. What kind of message does that send? The man will be lucky to make the team, it seems to me he could use an attitude adjustment.
I had a chance to talk with catcher JR Towles a bit today and you could not ask for friendlier guy. Born in Crosby, Texas, the 28 year-old Towles has never achieved the stardom that many predicted for him at Houston because his hitting has held him back in the back leagues but Towles did hit .295 in the minors. Towles is a good handler of pitchers and I really think he has a shot to take that 3rd catcher position with the Twins, it just depends on what he can show Twins brass during spring training.
I also spent a few minutes talking with Reggie Williams and he was very friendly and out-going as well. It sure is fun to get a chance to meet and talk with some of these young Twins on their way up. Later I met Luke Hughes and he was kind enough to pose for a picture. We got to talking about Australian baseball which interests me since I had a chance last year to interview former Twins 3B Glenn Williams who managed the Sydney Blue Sox last season. Hughes feels that the shoulder he hurt in Australia a week or so ago is coming along fine and he hopes to be able to play once spring training game action begins.
Around 11:30 or so Joe Mauer emerged from the minor league clubhouse and was asked for his autograph by 4 or 5 fans. It turns out that several of these autograph hounds were “regulars” that ask for his autograph every day on several items. Joe lectured them on the fact that he is not going to be signing multiple items for them day in and day out but I am not sure a lot of what Joe told them sunk in. I can understand ballplayer frustrations when the same collectors are there day after day and you know they are selling what ever they get signed.
I did take a few more pictures that I again posted in my 2012 spring training picture file that you can find on the right side of this page. There are numerous other players here working out each day that I do not recognize. More and more players on the practice fields each day and I am amazed at how many minor league players there are working out on their own this early at their own expense before their spring training begins.