Twins notes: Players express interest in Japan tour

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • August 17, 2014 - 12:25 AM

Major League Baseball is headed back to Japan, and three Twins players would like to be part of the tour.

A team of All-Stars will travel there Nov. 11-20 to take on “Samurai Japan” — Japan’s national team — in what’s being called the All-Star Series.

The Team USA roster will be announced next month, and Glen Perkins, Brian Dozier and Phil Hughes have let it be known that they would like to be part of the tour.

“I hope that I get chosen,” Perkins said. “I told them I want to do it and, whatever it entails, I’m interested.”

Dozier and his wife, Renee, are headed to Nicaragua this offseason as part of a mission trip for the second consecutive year. But the only thing that will keep them from going is if he has selected for the All-Star Series.

“I basically told them that I would love to go,” Dozier said.

It will mark the 36th time a team from MLB will tour Japan, dating to 1908. It will be the first time Major League Baseball has sent a team to Japan since 2006.

That team, which included the Twins’ Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan, went 5-0.

The All-Star Series will consist of six games, one played in Osaka, three in Tokyo and one in Sapporo. There will be one final game Nov. 20 in Okinawa.

Ice bucket madness

Dozier, Mauer, Terry Steinbach and Ron Gardenhire on Saturday pulled off the Ice Bucket Challenge, the craze that has raised, according to reports, more than $11 million for ALS.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was hatched with the idea to raise awareness about ALS. A person has to be filmed having ice water dumped on them, then challenge others to do the same. If not, then that person must donate $100 to ALS.

A-list celebrities and professional athletes have taken the challenge, which has been a social media smash hit.

Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven and Royals counterpart Rex Hudler also had ice water dumped on them Saturday.

After being doused with his ice bucket, Gardenhire said he has challenged Wild coach Mike Yeo, Gophers men’s hockey coach Don Lucia and former Twins manager Tom Kelly to join the cause.

“’Cause they are ice people,” Gardenhire said of Yeo and Lucia. “And then Tom Kelly, because when he hears that he’s going to stare me down, cold as ice.”

Hicks watch

Danny Santana started at shortstop Saturday night for the Twins for the first time since June 25. Gardenhire said he would like to use Santana at his natural position more during the final weeks of the season.

One way it would be easier to pull Santana out of center field would be if Aaron Hicks was back with the team.

Hicks was batting .375 through eight games at Class AAA Rochester since being promoted from Class AA New Britain, and it seems as if it’s a matter of time before the Twins give him another look to see if he can handle major league pitching.

“He’s playing very well,” Gardenhire said of Hicks. “He’s hitting well in Triple-A. He hit well in Double-A. He’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing. He was sent down there to find himself and find his swing and get some confidence. And he’s doing everything you can ask. That will be an organization decision if he comes back up here.”

Swarzak fine

There was some concern that reliever Anthony Swarzak would land on the disabled list because of a left ankle sprain after he twisted it just after throwing the final pitch of Tuesday’s game against Houston.

But Swarzak took a fitness test on Friday, including running off the mound to cover first base, and was cleared to play.

© 2015 Star Tribune