When John McEvoy arrived at Target Field for Tuesday’s doubleheader — it was 2 a.m., so he was about 11 hours early but 20 hours away from quitting time — thick snow was accumulating in the ballpark. The stadium crew, facing the most challenging day in Target Field’s four-year history, went into damage mode.
“We were discussing, ‘If we have to, what areas of the park can we shut down?’ ” said McEvoy, the Twins’ senior manager of ballpark operations. “If we get 10 inches, this is a whole different situation.”
Instead, the precipitation amounted to only 3 inches, and the crew swung into action. About 35 workers rolled out 10 large hoses, about 40,000 feet worth, around the ballpark, and soon began spraying 148-degree water on nearly every seating section, to melt the snow and ready the ballpark for the thousands of bundled-up souls who would show up for 18 innings on an improbable day of baseball.
Target Field’s gates opened at noon. And when did the stadium crews, under the direction of ballpark services director Gary Glawe and maintenance manager Dana Minion, begin to feel confident that the tons of snow could be successfully removed in time? “At about 11:55 [a.m.],” McEvoy joked, when the last hose was finally rolled up.
It’s the first time in Target Field history that the Twins have played a game — and a day game, at that — on the same day as a relatively major snowstorm, and the challenge was doubled by the need to clear and clean the park again between games. “If the sun had not come out this morning, I’m not sure we could have done it,” Glawe said. And pushing the game’s first pitch from noon to 1:10 was essential, too.
The hot-water method of snow removal wasn’t envisioned by ballpark architects, but was discovered by stadium crews in 2010. Concourses in the uppermost deck still have to be shoveled by hand, but the seating bowl is largely handled with water now, and six new spigots were installed around the park this year for the purpose. The runoff is even collected in a huge culvert that runs under the warning track, foul pole to foul pole, so the water can be recycled.
As workers prepared the fans’ area, groundskeeper Larry DiVito did the same on the field, and with equal success. Both games went off flawlessly, despite the 40-degree weather. “It’s just incredible, after everything we’ve been through, to see the field in [good] shape,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
• Pedro Hernandez, who worked one inning Tuesday, is scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Rangers, Gardenhire said, his first start since April 7. Vance Worley and Scott Diamond will pitch the first two games of the four-game series, with Kevin Correia taking Sunday’s finale.
• Madison Boer, the Eden Prairie righthander taken by the Twins in the second round of the 2011 draft, suffered a broken left hand Sunday in an off-field situation in Fort Myers, the team said. Boer was 1-0, albeit with an 11.81 ERA, in three appearances this year for the Miracle.
• General Manager Terry Ryan is back from a trip to Rochester, N.Y., to see the Twins’ Class AAA team, and said that former first-round pick Kyle Gibson “is 100 percent. His arm, his delivery, his mechanics — everything is in good order, which is encouraging.” Gibson is 0-3 with a 4.43 ERA for the Red Wings, but has struck out 19 in 20 innings. Ryan also said reliever Tim Wood “was very sharp,” and only needs more work before the Twins make a decision on his status. Wood is on the 40-man roster and is on a rehabilitation assignment, but he is out of options.