Familiar face missing in Fort Myers as illness grounds Toma

FORT MYERS, FLA. -- One of the signs that spring training is near has been veteran groundskeeper George Toma dragging the infield between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. But Toma has been unable to make it to Hammond Stadium.

Toma, who has worked every Super Bowl, suffered a blood clot while working at the Louisiana Superdome for the Ravens-49ers showdown a couple of weeks ago. He has been given blood- thinning medication and, for now, will not be allowed to travel to Fort Myers.

Toma has been the Twins' spring groundskeeping maven since 2002.

"They did not rule out the chance that he would make it here, but he had a little bit of a setback,'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "It's not a given that he won't be here, but I haven't talked to him in a week.''

It's strange looking out on the field and not seeing Toma with his shirt off -- flashing that leather skin -- while dragging the infield.

Etc.

• Several pitchers and catchers got in workouts on Tuesday's reporting day for pitchers and catchers, including Joe Mauer. Physically, he looks great, although he said he was under the weather last week. He's looking forward to working with several new pitchers in camp, and said he senses that the players who were around last year are determined to turn things around in 2013.

• Liam Hendriks, still in the running for a spot in the rotation, was one of a few pitchers throwing in the bullpen. Trevor Plouffe was among position players working out Tuesday.

• Most players fly to spring training. Some rent cars. Those who can afford it ship their cars. Then there's former Gopher Kyle Knudson, who hopped in his car, headed south, stopped in Iowa to pick up B.J. Hermsen, then completed a 28-hour drive.

• Super prospect Miguel Sano is in Fort Myers, along with Kennys Vargas and Romy Jimenez. Vargas and Sano are large lads, and the Twins can keep an eye on their workouts this way. It wouldn't be surprising to see Sano make a couple of spring road trips.

• Righthander Jose Berrios (Puerto Rico), lefthander Andrew Albers (Canada) and Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico) will work out with the major leaguers before joining their national teams for the World Baseball Classic. Rosario is a second baseman in the Twins farm system but will play outfield for Puerto Rico.

• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire met with his coaching staff to go over the workout schedule and other issues. Pitchers and catchers take the field 8 a.m. Wednesday for the official start of training camp.

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