The Twins plan to open the home portion of their season April 7 against Oakland, even though not one inch of the barrage of snow we have had this winter has been removed from either the seats or the grass at Target Field.
The Twin Cities Meteorological Society reported that 53.6 inches of snow, or just under 4½ feet, have fallen in the metro this year, and Target Field has been a victim like everywhere else.
Twins President Dave St. Peter said snow removal will start in earnest in the next few days as the temperature finally moves above freezing.
“We’ll start on the playing field and work to get all that snow removed in the next week to 10 days, with the hopes that by the third week in March, maybe the middle of March, that we’re really able to begin field preparation for the new season,” St. Peter said. “Once we’re done with the field, we’ll move into the seating bowl and start snow removal there. We’re still obviously very confident that we’ll be in good shape to play baseball on April 7th when we host the A’s.”
One of the best investments the Pohlad family made was to make sure a field heating system was installed in the ballpark, which will be beginning its fifth season of play.
“The field heating system and all of that, Target Field is state of the art,” St. Peter said. “It’s actually not electric, it’s actually a glycol-based system, similar to what they have at Lambeau Field and they use it at other areas in the country. It gives us a huge advantage. That grass really never goes dormant and once we get the snow off of it and the tarp of it, that grass will be in the best shape of any lawn in the Upper Midwest, I know that. Hopefully we won’t get a whole lot of precipitation here, certainly snow, the rest of the month.”
But the snow that has piled up around the area has piled up at the ballpark, too.
“We have not really started our snow removal effort, it has just been too cold,” St. Peter said. “For it to be effective, we really need some help from Mother Nature and at least get temps into the 30s and 40s, and thankfully it looks like we’re going to get a nice stretch of that over the course of the next week or so.”
How much snow is on the field?
“Probably a couple of feet. It’s just like everywhere else,” St. Peter said. “We obviously have a lot of work to do and we’re prepared for it. It’s not a surprise to us, we’ll be ready to go. We have, in my opinion, the best grounds crew in Major League Baseball and they’re [eager] to get going.”
St. Peter said that the Twins grounds crew will have the bulk of the duties preparing Target Field.
“We will probably bring in some outside people to help with snow removal in the seating bowl, but we’re pretty experienced with this,” he said. “We’ve moved a lot of snow there, unfortunately, over the last couple of years. I think that’s just part of our new reality, or reality going forward in terms of playing outdoor baseball in Minnesota. We’re prepared for it and we’ll be ready to go.”
Asked if he has any expectations for the weather on Opening Day, St. Peter said: “Who knows, it’s a crapshoot. This will be our fifth opener at Target Field and we’ve had pretty good weather for three of the four. Last year the temperature was in the mid-to-high 20s, hopefully it will be better than it was a year ago, but who knows? Just as long as it’s dry, we will play.”
Regarding this summer’s All-Star Game, St. Peter said: “We’re working hard. Major League Baseball has a whole crew of people coming in here next week. I’m very excited about a partnership that’s going to be announced that’s going to involve Target Corporation and their involvement in the All-Star Game and a very significant community initiative. That will be announced in the near future.
“We’re just in the midst now of getting a better sense of how many of our season-ticket holders are taking their All-Star Game seats, and as expected a large percentage of them are, and once we get through that process we’ll have a better sense of what will be available to the general public.”
Vereen to Vikings?
Defensive back Brock Vereen made a great impression at the Gophers pro day on Monday in front of most of the Vikings staff when he was first in the bench press (25), second in the 40-yard dash (4.47 seconds) tied for 10th in both the vertical jump (34 inches) and broad jump (9 feet, 6 inches), second in the three-cone drill (6.9 seconds) and second in the 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds).
The Vikings had at least one scout at every Gophers home game, and believe me it would surprise me if they didn’t either draft Vereen or sign him as a free agent.
• Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, who is being treated for skin cancer, surprised the people in the Twins office on Tuesday by showing up for a full day’s work. The word is that Ryan is making good progress.
• The first battle for a basketball player between Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Gophers coach Richard Pitino ended up in the father’s favor, as Rick got the commitment from Egyptian 7-1 center Anas Osama Mahmoud of West Oaks Academy in Orlando. Mahmoud visited both Louisville and the Gophers and was a top-sought recruit with offers from Marquette, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Georgia and Boston College among others.
• Sophomore Adam Wilcox, who is one big reason the Gophers men’s hockey team is once again ranked No. 1 in the nation, is a candidate for the Mike Richter Award, which goes to the top goalie in college hockey. It is awarded by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation. Wilcox is one of 18 candidates. His 20 victories rank third-best in the nation. Wilcox also ranks seventh in the nation with his 1.97 goals-against average.
• There are three former Gophers golfers on professional tours this year. Bronson LaCassie has full status on the PGA Tour and has made the cut in one event in five events, making $29,139 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last month. Erik van Rooyen has competed in three events on the European Tour and has prize winnings of a little more than $10,000. Donald Constable, who was on the PGA Tour in 2013, is currently on the National Golf Association Tour and has made the cut in both events he has played in this year. Constable, one of the best Gophers golfers in recent years, is playing well and is confident he will make it back onto the PGA Tour after playing in some more NGA events.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com