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.
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- I started my spring training tour in a random spot today, visiting the new, $100 million complex built for the Diamondbacks and Rockies in the northeast part of the Phoenix metro area.
The complex, funded by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, has been called the "Disneyland of Baseball," and I can see why. Besides trying to build a state-of-the-art complex for player development, these teams tried to do as much as possible to make the fans a part of it.
Besides the 11,000-seat stadium, which the two teams will share, there are four major league fields, eight minor-league fields and four half-fields for infield practice. There are walkways above the bullpens, where fans can lean over and watch the brand new baseballs zipping into catchers mitts.
The Diamondbacks clubhouse, at least the main locker area, is as posh as the Twins' home clubhouse at Target Field. For this scribe, who spent three years covering the Orioles in the crumbling confines of Fort Lauderdale Stadium, it was yet another sign of baseball's warp-speed growth.
It's worth noting that Twins president Dave St. Peter and General Manager Bill Smith toured Salt River Fields in December when they were out here for the quarterly owners' meetings. The Twins are working with Lee County on some major improvements to their own spring training facility in Fort Myers.
Anyway, I'm working on some stories that will run in our annual season preview section, in late-March, but I'll be in Fort Myers for the Grapefruit League opener later this month.
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