CAMP CUPCAKE, FLA. - My goodness. I now cover a team of spoiled, pampered softies.
Found out late last night that the clubhouse would not be open until 9:30 this morning, and that was for the players who were on the bus to Sarasota for a split squad game. The rest of the team wasn't due in until 11 am for today's game against Washington. This is the second time they have had a "show and go" morning and we have a week and a half of games remaining. There used to be one of these days - the last game of spring training before breaking camp.
What has spring training come to? What happened to Justin Morneau hitting in the cages at 7:30 a.m.? What about early bunting practice with Rod Carew? The soundtrack of spring training - balls slamming into mitts, fungoes being hit, players yelling - is being replaced by a country club atmosphere in which the millionaires decide what they want to wear for workouts that day and when they want to play.
Spoiled. Pampered. Coddled.
This is not the spring training I used to cover, when it sounded like spring training. When Tom Kelly's voice cut across the field, knocking the morning dew off of the grass. Or Ron Gardenhire's jokes making his players roll around in laughter as they stretched in the morning.
Teams are catering to players more than ever. In fact, while the clubhouse was closed until 9:30, all the players were actually at the park at 7:30 this morning for a special program. I used my network of sources to obtain this special, "work" schedule:
7:30 a.m. Qigong
8:00 a.m. Massage
8:30 a.m. Aromatherapy
9:00 a.m. Meetings (Kombucha served)
9:30 a.m. Media Jackals allowed in
12:30 p.m. Speech by Tony Robbins
1:00 p.m. First pitch
5:30 p.m. Pickleball tournament
Wow. We interrupt your vacation to bring you a ballgame. If new manager Rocco Baldelli is trying to get on the good side of his players he has knocked one out of the park. This will be the most tanned and refreshed a Twins team has ever been on Opening Day, thanks to one of the most sweatless spring training camps I've ever seen.
O.K., I'm kidding with most of this. It is not one big vacation down here. The Twins are not soft. Work is getting done. But the process is much different this year.
And it sounds like other camps around the league are starting later in the day and keeping their players off the field as much as possible. Rest and recovery are the new catchwords. We heard about some of this during the winter meetings. Sounds like some managers were talking and concluded that no one is ready for peak performance at 7:30 a.m. and any early morning drills are just eyewash. They are going to let their guys get their sleep in.
We'll see if it works. I will point out that the Twins have not kicked the ball around much this year and have blasted their fair share of home runs. And players have noted that there is less standing around in this camp. Again, we'll see how this all plays out.
My colleague Phil Miller wrote for today about Jose Berrios signing a one-year contract. The Twins this year were able to sign all of their players with zero to three years of service time. Once in a while, the sides will fail to come to an agreement and the contract will be renewed. When that happens, there could be hard feelings. I found out this morning that Berrios signed for $620,000. The Twins tried to sign Berrios to a multi-year deal during the offseason but couldn't come to an agreement. Let's see how this year plays out. If Berrios has another good year, the Twins might regret not getting a deal done. And visa versa for Berrios if he has a setback.
The Nationals make their only appearance of camp today and, no, they did not bring Brian Dozier with them.
The Twins will get a good look at Wander Javier, one of their top shortstop prospects, today. Javier, who was signed for $4 million in 2015, will start at short. He missed all of last season because of shoulder surgery. "Nice kid," our Patrick Reusse said as I wrote this.
Victor Robles, RF
Michael A Taylor, CF
Juan Soto, DH
Jake Noll, 1B
Carter Kieboom, SS
Wilmer Difo, 2B
Adrian Sanchez, 3B
Andrew Stevenson, CF
Spencer Kieboom, C
Erick Fedde, RHP
Max Kepler, RF
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Mitch Garver, 1B
Byron Buxton, CF
Jason Castro, C
Wander Javier, SS
Martin Perez, LHP
Here's the lineup for the split squad game in Sarasota
Michael Reed, RF
Ehire Adrianza, LF
Jake Cave, CF
Tyler Austin, 1B
Lucas Duda, DH
Ronald Torreyes, SS
Adam Rosales, 2B
Tomas Telis, C
Chase De Jong, RHP