FORT MYERS, FLA. – It’s the worst thing a baseball team can hear as spring training starts: Health is becoming a problem.
But don’t panic. The Twins’ problem is the flu virus, not injuries. Four more players were sent home from workouts Sunday, and the remaining players were taking precautions. “I’m not talking to anybody if they don’t look OK,” outfielder Aaron Hicks said. “Better to be safe.”
Trevor Plouffe, who missed Saturday’s workout, arrived at Hammond Stadium just after sunrise, took a few swings in the batting cages, and went home when he felt sick again. Byron Buxton, Trevor May and Jordan Schafer were told to go home soon afterward.
“I won’t say I’m concerned, but we’ve got something floating around here and people are picking it up. Hopefully we can minimize those who do that, and try to get the guys healthy,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Trevor [Plouffe] is on Day 2, so I don’t know how long it’s going to linger. “
Meyer credits grandpa
Alex Meyer, perhaps the Twins’ best pitching prospect, returned to spring training Sunday after attending the memorial service for his grandfather, Don Meyer, who died at age 76 in Greensburg, Ind.
He founded Don Meyer Ford, a company Alex’s father, Dave, now runs.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a locker in this locker room,’’ Alex Meyer said of his grandfather. “He provided an opportunity for my dad to take off work and do what I needed to become a better baseball player.”
He also offered some advice about his baseball career. “I went to see him right before I left for spring training, and he said, ‘Have fire in the belly this year; just be hungry,’ ” Meyer said. “I’ll remember that this year and go out there and know he’s with me.”
Tony O. and Minnie
Tony Oliva called Minnie Minoso in December, after each narrowly, excruciatingly missed election to the Hall of Fame, Oliva by one vote and Minoso by four. “He said, ‘Well, they did it to us again,’ ” Oliva said. “He said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be around next time.’ ”
Sadly, Minoso was right; Oliva’s Cuban countryman died Sunday in Chicago, where he starred for the White Sox.
Minoso arrived from Cuba about 10 years before Oliva, and broke barriers that made life easier for Oliva and other Latin players to come. “That was a nasty era to play baseball,” Oliva said of the 1950s. “If you come from Latin America, you’re black, you don’t speak the language, you have to stay together in a different [hotel], you can’t mingle — right now, it’s so much better.”
Minoso wasn’t just a trail blazer, though; he could do just about anything on the field, Oliva said of his friend. “In my book, when they talk about the best Cuban ballplayer,” Oliva said, “I always said: ‘Minnie Minoso.’ ”
Let’s meet: Argenis Diaz, shortstop
2014 stats: Batted a combined .267 in 111 games for three Class AA and AAA teams; also executed 10 sacrifices.
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent.
Role: The veteran Venezuelan provides minor league depth as a utility infielder.
Did you know? Diaz, who is from the same Venezuelan city as Heiker Meneses, with whom he’s competing for a job, was once traded (with Hunter Strickland) by the Red Sox for Adam LaRoche.