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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins open spring schedule against Rays with Gibson on the mound

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are working out at Hammond Stadium right now, wearing their bright red jerseys, as they prepare for their 7 p.m. Grapefruit League opener against the Rays. (There is no TV coverage of the game, though it’s on Go96.3. Tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is being televised by MLB Network.)

    It was a quiet day in Twins camp, with the players ordered (and threatened with having to pay for a team dinner if they disobeyed) to stay away from the ballpark until 2 p.m. After a week or more of 7:30 arrivals, nobody seemed to mind.

    Paul Molitor chose to stick with the lineup he projected yesterday, one that looks like the Opening Day lineup with a couple of exceptions: Kennys Vargas will be at first base instead of Mauer, and Ehire Adrianza will be at second base in Brian Dozier’s place. Kyle Gibson will throw the first two innings (or 30 pitches), followed by an inning apiece from Brandon Kintzler, Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle, Justin Haley, Brian Boshers, Nick Tepesch and Michael Tonkin.

    Rookie righthander Austin Pruitt starts for Tampa Bay.

    Here are the lineups for the first of 35 spring games:

RAYS

 

Beckham SS

Robertson 3B

Miller 2B

Dickerson LF

Gillaspie 1B

Casali DH

Maile C

Peterson CF

Field RF

 

Pruitt RHP

 

TWINS

 

Buxton CF

Polanco SS

Sano 3B

Vargas 1B

Park DH

Kepler RF

Rosario LF

Castro C

Adrianza 2B

 

Gibson RHP

     Now, a confession: I’m not a golfer, and had no idea what an albatross is. (If you saw my rare attempts to play the game, you’d understand why I do know what a “snowman” is.)  So when Glen Perkins tweeted photos of Joe Mauer retrieving his golf ball out of the cup yesterday, I made a basic mistake. I jumped to conclusions.

    Turns out, Mauer didn’t collect a hole in one Thursday night — he accomplished something even more rare. He holed his second shot, from 236 yards out to an uphill green, on a par 5. Perkins called it an albatross — three under par on a hole — but I just thought he was being colorful.

    Mauer was enjoying the congratulations from his teammates this afternoon, and Perkins sounded amazed at how well the first baseman was hitting the ball during his round. He putted well, too, Mauer said — probably the best round of his life.

    No hole in one, though. He’s never had one. So please accept my mea culpa for writing in Friday’s paper that he had.

    But in my defense, Mauer didn’t know what an albatross is, either. “I’ve only heard it called a double eagle. Glen told me it’s an albatross,” Mauer said. “He said the only reason he knew it was because he’s had one on Golden Tee.”

    Fortunately, there is no golf for me to write about tonight — only baseball.

 

Twins pose for photos, then get to work on eve of spring opener

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — Big day at Twins camp, so the team brought in extra help — a barber, ready to provide a quick shave or last-minute haircut adjustments. Yes, it’s Picture Day, and no, it’s really not much different than what you went through in grade school.

    Each player puts on his full uniform, grabs his bat and glove, and heads to the field, where today there were seven different stations set up. Players wait in line at each station, where TV stations, baseball card companies, MLB and the Star Tribune have photographers set up to capture various posed shots, portraits and video.

    The Twins' Glen Perkins All the media demands can be a bit tedious for the players, which is why teams try to take care of all the requests at once. The photos taken today will appear in a variety of places — Twins telecasts, on 100-foot scoreboards, and inserted into stories in the newspaper. FS1 even erected a large tent to conduct those short interviews that are part of their coverage, with dim lighting and a backdrop where they project the Twins logo.

    The players also fill out a form that reflects the sport’s growing sensitivity to ethnic and language differences among the players. All it asks for is this: Tell us how to spell your name.

    “Major League Baseball wants to ensure that your name is being presented in exactly the manner that you desire. This form will allow you to tell us how you want your name to be presented on your jersey; MLB.com; scoreboards where possible; graphics in national and local television broadcasts; and other platforms. … Please feel free to include any accent marks and diacritics that you would like to include in the presentation of your name.”

    All the media activity caused a 45-minute delay in today’s workout, but the Twins are on the field now. It’s the last day before the grind of daily ballgames begins; Friday is the spring opener, a night game here at Hammond Stadium against the Rays. There are 35 spring games scheduled before the season begins 39 days from now, on April 3 at Target Field.

    Plenty to read in today’s paper, too, particularly if you like shortstops. I wrote about Ehire Adrianza, whom advanced metrics say would be a major defensive upgrade on the Twins’ roster, while Patrick Reusse made the case for giving Danny Santana another look in the infield. La Velle E. Neal III noted that most pitchers no longer choose to pitch from behind a protective screen while pitching batting practice. And Strib photo journalist Aaron Lavinsky profiles, via video, Twins spring training groundskeeper George Toma, who at 88 years old is regarded as one of the best ever at his craft.