Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Blackburn: 'Unbelievable how devastating' tornado was

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: May 21, 2013 - 11:56 PM

Wednesday's first pitch is less than 12 hours away, so this is in leiu of the normal postgame blog. But I wanted to pass on this:

Nick Blackburn drove to the Oklahoma City airport on Tuesday to catch a flight to the Twins' training camp in Florida. The route didn't seem nearly as familiar as usual.

"It's unbelievable how devastating this [tornado] was," the Twins' righthander said. "We drove by all these places we're used to seeing, and some of them are gone."

Blackburn, working to come back from offseason wrist surgery, was home in Oklahoma, roughly 20 miles south of Moore, where 24 people were killed by half-mile-wide twister. He had returned earlier this month for the birth of he and wife Alicia's twin sons on May 14, and "I'm so thankful I was home" during the storm, the father of four said. "I couldn't take watching it on TV from Florida, wondering" if his family was OK.

He actually was supposed to return to Fort Myers on Sunday, but his flight was cancelled by the impending storm. "And we had to take a different way home, because there was a tornado coming the way we normally go," he said. At one point during Monday's storm, there were active tornadoes a short distance away both north and south of their home.

"But we came through it all right. No damage to our house, nobody hurt," Blackburn said. He and his family spent the day watching coverage of the storm on TV, waiting to lock themselves in their "safe room" if one came to close -- none ever did -- and "seeing all these places we drive through all the time just get ripped apart."

Blackburn hopes to throw his first bullpen session this week, with a goal of facing hitters by mid-June. And when the season ends, he'll return to his home in Tornado Alley. "I know outsiders don't necessarily understand why we love living there," Blackburn said. "But it's home. I'll never leave."

Ron Gardenhire also has relatives in Oklahoma, about 70 miles north of Oklahoma City, who "have been in the storm cellar for two days," the Twins manager said. "But they're OK."
 

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