Will Twins retain home-field edge?

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2010 - 6:15 AM

Target Field is beautiful, but the Metrodome's unusual traits helped provide an advantage over opponents.

Most American League managers believed the Twins had a big home-field advantage playing at the Metrodome, where the roof, the baggie in right field and other quirks caused problems for visiting teams.

Except for the Yankees, the Twins have done pretty well at home against the rest of the American League.

The big question is: Will the Twins be able to dominate at Target Field like they did at the Metrodome?

Ozzie Guillen, whose White Sox had trouble winning in the Dome, is one manager who is happy the Twins are moving into Target Field.

Another opposing manager who had trouble winning in the Metrodome is the Tigers' Jim Leyland. The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings at the Dome in Game 163 last season, giving them the AL Central title and putting them in the playoffs.

The two Twins' World Series-winning teams really dominated in the Metrodome.

The 1987 champions were 56-25 in the Dome, the best home record in all of baseball that season. The 1991 champions were 51-30 at home, again ranking first in the AL but fourth in the major leagues.

Neither the 1987 nor 1991 champions won a World Series game on the road. They won four at home and lost all three on the road, to the Cardinals in '87 and the Braves in '91.

The Twins' home record from 2001 through 2009 was 440-290, fourth in all of baseball and third in the American League.

No doubt the Twins felt comfortable playing at the Metrodome and believed they had an advantage. It will be interesting how the team does at Target Field.

Great pitching

The Twins' starters just finished one of their best spring trainings.

Kevin Slowey was 3-0, with a 1.71 ERA. Francisco Liriano was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Nick Blackburn was 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA. Scott Baker was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Carl Pavano was 2-1 with a 4.98 ERA.

Among members of the bullpen, Matt Guerrier led the staff with a 0.00 ERA, followed by Jesse Crain at 0.93, Pat Neshek at 1.86 and Jon Rauch at 2.45.

In touch with Favre

Vikings coach Brad Childress spent some time on the phone Thursday with quarterback Brett Favre, just keeping in touch with the great quarterback.

You can rest assured there is no talk with the Eagles about a trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb. Anything you read or hear about that is not true.

Childress and Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf will be at Target Field for the Twins' home opener on April 12 against Boston.

Dru-Ann Childress, wife of the Vikings coach, just returned from Hawaii where she visited their son, Andrew, who is in the Marines and could be deployed to Afghanistan in the near future.

Nineteen of the 20 Vikings assistant coaches now have two-year contracts through 2011.

Jottings

Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos, who batted .400 in 13 games this spring, led all full-season minor leaguers in the Twins' farm system last season in batting average (.317) and on-base percentage (.341). ... Through Thursday's spring training games, Michael Cuddyer led the Twins in batting at .442, followed by Joe Mauer (.421), Ramos, Jim Thome (.367) and J.J. Hardy (.361).

Nick Leddy, the 2009 first-round draft choice of the Wild whose rights were traded to Chicago in February, said the Blackhawks haven't talked to him about turning pro. Regardless, Leddy said he planned to come back to the Gophers, play his sophomore year and turn pro when he is ready.

The Gophers men's basketball team will play in a tournament in Puerto Rico from Nov. 18-21. They will face strong competition from teams such as North Carolina, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Hofstra and Davidson.

The 2011 Frozen Four will be held at Xcel Energy Center. This year's Frozen Four is being played April 8 and 10 at Ford Field in Detroit. Gophers assistant athletic director Marc Ryan, director of athletic communications Garry Bowman, and vice president/general manager Jack Larson and director of sales and marketing Kelly McGrath of Xcel Energy Center will be on hand in Detroit to prepare for next year's big event. ... The advance sale for the Frozen Four in Detroit is 26,000, with 35,000 expected to attend.

For the first time in years, the Gophers athletic department doesn't have a group at the Final Four trying to land future NCAA men's basketball tournaments because they have been told none will be awarded until the Twin Cities gets a new stadium.

Every spring training game the Twins held in Fort Myers, Fla., was sold out until the last two games. Exhibition games with the St. Louis Cardinals at Target Field on Friday and Saturday are sold out.

Gophers baseball coach John Anderson said he learned that the 36,056 fans who attended the Gophers-Louisiana Tech game at Target Field on Saturday was the second-biggest crowd to see a college game. The largest crowd was 40,106 for a Houston-San Diego State game at Petco Park in San Diego in 2004.

Former Gophers center John Thomas is playing for Hapoel Holon of the Israeli Basketball League and is averaging 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds through 19 games this season, including six double-doubles.

Minneapolis native Khalid El-Amin, the former Connecticut point guard, is playing in the Ukraine for Budivelnyk Kyiv and is averaging 22.7 points and 5.3 assists in 30.7 minutes per game this year.

Ricky Rubio, picked No. 5 overall by the Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA draft, is currently averaging 6.7 points and 4.2 assists in 20.5 minutes per game for Regal FC Barcelona in the Euroleague and he is averaging 6.8 points and 4.7 assists in 19.0 minutes per game for Regal in the Spanish Basketball League. ... Henk Norel, the Timberwolves' second-round pick in 2009, is playing for DVK Joventut Badalona this season and is averaging 4.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game in the Spanish League. ... The Wolves' 2008 second-round pick, Nikola Pekovic, continues to play well for Panathinaikos Athens in Greece. In the Euroleague, Pekovic is averaging 14.3 points and 3.8 rebounds through 12 games, and in the Greek League, he is averaging 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds through 22 games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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