Familiar faces of stardom: Eight former Twins fill All-Star rosters

The All-Star Game will feature Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and a bunch of their former teammates in Minnesota.

hide

Carlos Gomez, exciting but inconsistent in two seasons with the Twins, has become a fixture in center field for the Brewers.

Photo: Kathy Willens, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– Before the participants in the 2013 All-Star Game took part in media sessions on Monday, they gathered in a hotel room to review the day’s schedule and what to expect from the horde of reporters chronicling the event.

As they seated themselves at a table before the meeting, several players said they looked around and realized that it was a Twins alumni reunion.

“They were everywhere,” Twins closer Glen Perkins said, “and there are a lot of guys that I played with.”

The number of former Twins at the All-Star Game reached eight Sunday when Grant Balfour was added to the American League roster to replace fellow Oakland righthander Bartolo Colon. The AL will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak in Tuesday’s 84th All-Star Game at City Field.

“It’s special,” former Twins closer Joe Nathan said of seeing so many former Minnesota teammates. “We got a chance to reminisce, talk about old times and talk about how guys are doing now. I’m sure in the clubhouse and maybe after the Home Run Derby we’ll get a chance to gather and chat some more.”

The eight All-Stars provide a great history lesson about Twins baseball in the 2000s.

Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, Boston’s David Ortiz and Detroit’s Torii Hunter were on the 2002 team, the first Twins team to reach the postseason since 1991.

Nathan, Balfour and White Sox reliever Jesse Crain — who will miss Tuesday’s game because of an injury — joined the Twins in 2004 to help them sustain their dominance in the AL Central. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez (2009) and Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy (2010) represent the end of their dominance — six division titles in nine years — and their departures helped plant the seeds for the Twins’ plunge to the bottom of the division.

Perkins and catcher Joe Mauer will represent the Twins, raising the total to 10 players with current or past ties to the organization.

“It’s pretty cool,” Mauer said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. Obviously, you’d like to have all those guys in Twins uniforms here, but there’s great friendships with guys you played with. You carry on. You see your friends doing well. You always hope for that.”

That was the general reaction as the All-Star rosters were announced last week. Of course, there was also this reaction: Just think of where the Twins could be now.

No way of knowing

Hunter, who left the Twins as a free agent after 2007, falls into the latter category, seeing all the familiar faces Monday and pondering what might have been.

“It’s tough because that’s my home, that’s my love and no matter what that’s going to be my first love even if I play against them,” the nine-time Gold Glove outfielder said. “And it is tough to see them where they are at right now. With all these ex-Twin All-Stars here you’d think that if they would have kept us we would have been in the World Series.”

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who sent Cuddyer a congratulatory text message when the Rockies outfielder made the team, has a slightly different perspective.

“There’s nothing guaranteed that if they stayed here they would have become All-Stars more times,” said Morneau, an All-Star every year from 2007 to 2010. “I’m happy for all those guys. They deserve it. It would be nice to have them on our team, but [moving on] is part of the game.”

The Twins allowed Hunter, Cuddyer, Nathan, Balfour and Crain to leave via free agency, and Cuddyer and Nathan both left with concerns about the direction the team was headed. Ortiz, in a bad baseball decision, was released, signed by Boston and become Big Papi, one of the most feared hitters in the majors. Gomez was traded for Hardy. Hardy, in another bad baseball decision, was traded to Baltimore as the Twins decided to try Tsuyoshi Nishioka at shortstop.

Hardy doesn’t hold a grudge against the Twins because, he said, he didn’t give them a good reason to bring him back after he batted .268 with six homers and played in only 101 games in 2010. He has been healthy with the Orioles, providing smooth defense and some pop from the plate.

“I understand what’s going on there,” he said. “I didn’t play well. I played through the wrist injury. That’s all in the past and no hard feelings. After the 2010 season there were a lot of guys who departed Minnesota. They were looking to go in a different direction.”

The Twins, lacking the experience of several of the aforementioned players, lost a combined 195 games in 2011 and 2012, and are on pace to lose 94 games this season. Other than Gomez’s Brewers and Crain’s White Sox, the other ex-Twins All-Stars have realistic playoff hopes this season.

Impressed early

Nathan is surprised the Twins are where they are at. The Rangers split four games at Target Field in April and thought the Twins were very competitive.

“When we were there, we were actually impressed with how improved they were this year compared to last year,” Nathan said “They are going to do the right things to turn that thing around. They won’t sit back and let that thing go in the wrong direction.”

The Twins demoted three players to the minors Sunday in a roster shakeup and hope to be active before the July 31 trade deadline. But any turnaround will have to come from the core of current players — which includes a rotation that lacks front-end starters and youth at several key positions.

Hunter and Ortiz were on Twins teams that took their lumps from 1998 to 2001, then Cuddyer joined them in 2002 to form a club other franchises wanted to emulate in the 2000s.

They have moved on and thrived. And the things most of them learned as Twins have not been forgotten, the former Twins-turned-All-Stars say.

“It’s tough,” Cuddyer said. “I know those guys aren’t having fun. It’s hard to have fun when you are losing games, but you still have to go out and play and try to get things right. Try to get hot. Try to catch some kind his of spark in order to get that winning feeling back again.

“That’s mainly what it is. You have to get a mentality that you can go out there and win. That’s what we had those years in Minnesota. We felt like we couldn’t lose. Over the last few years, including my last year there, that mentality started to shift.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close