Emptying the Notebook: TwinsFest Day 2

Now that the first two days of TwinsFest are over, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the extra tidbits that I’ve collected so far this weekend.

First up, here are some things that general manager Bill Smith shared with the media today.

— Acquiring a third baseman doesn’t appear to be a huge priority for the Twins right now as Smith said that he’s pleased with the club’s current candidates.

 “We have a lot of confidence in this group. We’ve
got two young kids coming in Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes. They’re
going to play in the big leagues, and the four guys we’ve got have
big-league time (Nick) Punto, (Alexi) Casilla, (Brendan) Harris and
(Matt) Tolbert. They all have versatility, they can all play around,
they can all play multiple positions.”

So in other words, it appears unlikely that the Twins will bring back Joe Crede, even on an incentive-laden contract. Crede, who remains an unsigned free agent, is coming off his third back surgery in three years.
— The Twins have yet to finalize the Jim Thome contract because they are waiting on the results of this weekend’s physicals. Smith doesn’t anticipate any problems, but the club has to make a move when the deal is finalized to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Thome. It’s unclear what that move might be.

Manager Ron Gardenhire spoke with the media at length on Friday. Among the things he shared:

— If catcher Jose Morales isn’t ready to start the season following his wrist surgery on Thursday, Gardenhire might be interested in taking prospect Wilson Ramos north with the club to be their backup catcher.

Ramos, who spent last season at Double-A New Britain, is coming off a strong winter ball performance in his native Venezuela, where he batted .332 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in 54 games. He also posted a .397 on-base percentage.

“I know what [Drew] Butera is, he’s a catch-and-throw guy who can catch,”
Gardenhire said. “And I’m really kind of interested in Ramos. He’s
caught the Venezuelan National Team, he caught in the World Baseball
[Classic], this kid’s got some experience with some good pitching and so
forth, he’s a big, strong kid, health is an issue, but we’re talking
about a backup catcher to Joe Mauer.”

Ramos is considered to be one of the Twins top prospects, he was ranked No. 2 in their system by Baseball America this month, and he’s also been lauded for having a strong arm behind the plate.

— Gardy said that the current options he has for backups in center field behind Denard Span include Jason Pridie and Michael Cuddyer. He said he’ll put Pridie and Cuddyer in center some during Spring Training. It’s also likely that Matt Tolbert could be mixed into the outfield during the spring as well.

And finally here are some tidbits that Twins president Dave St. Peter shared about the inaugural season at Target Field during yesterday’s media luncheon.

— The Twins haven’t finalized the seating capacity at Target Field quite yet but it is expected to be around

— The Twins have sold the equivalent of about 19,500 season tickets. It’s a huge jump from their previous record at the Metrodome, which was right around 11,000. The expectation is still that the team will surpass 20,000 season tickets by Opening Day.

— The team will host an open house at Target Field for season ticket holders on March 20, followed by one for the general public on March 21.

— More food options for Target Field will be announced soon, including something involved with Twins legend Tony Oliva.

— The new Twins main retail store at Target Field will officially open on March 13.

— In addition to the Twins’ two exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 2 and 3, Target Field will play host to a college baseball game on March 27.


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