I enjoyed the look on Mike Pelfrey's face this morning when Twins communications director Dustin Morse pointed out the huge media contingent -- there were four of us -- there to cover the team.
He couldn't believe it, and I understand why. Pelfrey spent seven seasons in New York, where a single newspaper might send four writers to cover a team.
"It's overwhelming there. It's every day after day after day -- there are 30 (media members) in the clubhouse, always," said the former Mets right-hander. "There are some great guys, but I think some try to write negatively. That's what people expect there, and it makes for a bad environment."
Pelfrey said he's impressed with the Twins' clubhouse, even though he's still learning some of the names. "It's a lot more relaxed here," he said. "(The Twins) do a good job of making things simple for the players."
Same thing on the fields surrounding Hammond Stadium, where the Twins held their first workout in preparation for the 2013 season. There were all the usual drills -- catchers settling under popups, pitchers covering first base, hitters using the right footwork to round the bases -- but they were being done by a lot of players unfamiliar to me. So like Pelfrey, I was spending a lot of time matching names to faces.
A couple of quick observations: The Twins have a lot of tall and/or beefy pitchers, but Rich Harden has that smaller, wiry frame (sort of like Billy Wagner) that makes you wonder where his velocity comes from. When he stands next to Vance Worley or Kyle Gibson, big guys who both threw well Wednesday, the effect is heightened.
-- The half-field where the infielders work every day has been named Tom Kelly Field, in honor of the former Twins manager who absolutely revels in lecturing rookies on fundamentals on it. I joked with Kelly that they named a diamond with no outfield after him, but he shot right back: Someone once brought up the fact that he hit only .181 in the majors, until he pointed out that he'd rather have hit .181 than never play in the majors at all. "Most people don't have a field named for them," he said. "So half a field is better than none, isn't it?"
-- Joe Mauer made it clear he doesn't consider himself close to being ready for the regular season yet, but he sure looked ready to me. Mauer was slashing baseballs all over the diamond during batting practice, and launched the last pitch he saw 40 feet beyond the right-field fence.
-- Some of the players received, unsolicited, new gloves with their names embroidered on them from a sporting-goods company after practice. None was very impressed. "It looks like a kid's glove," Glen Perkins said. "What an awful glove." Guess he won't be switching.
-- I was standing near Terry Ryan as the Twins' general manager shook hands with some fans near where the position players were taking batting practice. "It's good to meet you, Terry," said one fan. "I've heard a lot about you, all of it good." His friend standing next to him then piped up: "No, it wasn't all good." Ryan laughed pretty hard at that.