There was a crowd around Byron Buxton as he dressed at his locker this morning, which isn't particularly unusual. He hasn't played a game above Class A, but Buxton is already the Next Big Thing in baseball, and reporters come from all over the country to interview him.
But these weren't reporters today. They were sales reps. Spring training is when every equipment and apparel company sends employees to sign up new customers or endorsees, and make sure the ones they already have are happy. So on Friday, five employees of Under Armor were crowded around Buxton, making sure he has all the free sunglasses, workout equipment and footwear that he needs.
Buxton said he signed with UA shortly after the Twins drafted him out of high school in 2012. That's an investment that the company must be pretty excited about these days.
But Buxton was excited today, too. The Twins open the exhibition season this afternoon (noon Central) at jetBlue Park, the home of the Red Sox that's less than 10 miles from Hammond Stadium. Buxton isn't in the starting lineup, but he's on the traveling squad, and will play his first game against major-league competition later today.
Projected starters Joe Mauer, Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham aren't making the trip (and Pedro Florimon is still recovering from appendix surgery), but just about all of the other regulars are. Here is the first Twins' lineup of 2014:
Pelfrey P, followed in some order by Duensing, Deduno, Fien, Thielbar, Thompson, Gilmartin and Hoffman.
And here is the lineup for the world champions:
The game isn't televised, but it's available on KTWN radio. The Twins are debuting their all-red spring jerseys today and you can follow along on our Live Blog here.