By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com
As Friday’s reporting date for position players draws closer, the clubhouse inside Hammond Stadium is slowly starting to fill up.
Among the notable names arriving at camp on Tuesday were Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, and Nick Punto. There was also another familiar face when Jacque Jones arrived, taking over the locker stall that Torii Hunter occupied for many years. Some other prospects have also unpacked stuff into their lockers including third baseman Danny Valencia and 2006 first-round pick Chris Parmelee.
Position players take part in their own informal workouts on the back fields of the Minor League complex during the early days of camp. Every year the hitters are behind the pitchers early in Spring Training, which always makes for some entertainment when live batting practice starts. And the pitchers enjoy getting to rag on the position players a little about it as well.
So it was no surprise to hear this exchange in the clubhouse today between Thome and reliever Jon Rauch as the veteran slugger was putting some bats back in his locker.
Rauch: “Just like riding a bike?”
Thome: “Some years. [laughs] But not this early.”
Joe Mauer even joked about getting his swing back. As the catcher grabbed a couple of bats to take part in catcher’s batting practice on Tuesday morning, he said, “We’ll see if I can still remember how to do this.”
Just a guess, but I think the three-time AL batting champion will be OK.
Here are a few other notes and tidbits from Day 2 of camp.
— Prospect Estarlin De Los Santos hasn’t arrived at camp yet but manager Ron Gardenhire said that he’s heard the shortstop is battling a little tendinitis in his shoulder. The club will know more once he reports but Gardenhire said the infield is already starting to get thin, and position players aren’t even officially in camp yet.
–Since pitchers are still just throwing bullpens, it’s difficult for the coaches to get much of a sense of how they’re doing. But the questions about Francisco Liriano are already starting due to his strong performance in winter ball. Gardenhire had this to say about Liriano today.
“He looks good,
his body is in great shape,” the manager said. “It’s just going to get down to how we go through Spring Training, facing hitters and all that stuff. Really, he’s past this
point [of bullpens], he’s pitched all winter long. This is kind of something that he’s not
here to get in shape like everyone else because he played all winter. It’s just
about getting through it now, getting in games and continuing where he left off
during the winter for him.”
–A common sight during the first two days of camp has been a herd of fans moving around the Lee County Sports Complex whenever Mauer switches fields. The catcher has always been a big attraction at camp but this year the crowds seem to be even more interested in the reigning AL MVP.
— The Twins are also expected to officially announce on Wednesday that the first game at Target Field will be a contest between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech on March 27. More details will be unveiled in a press conference at Target Field. Hall of Famer and former Twin Paul Molitor will be on hand for the announcement.
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