The manager is threatening to have one of his starting pitchers arrested, the pitcher is plotting some sort of revenge on a teammate, and a reliever is as good at picking winners as he is at throwing strikes.
Yep, March Madness has hit Twins camp.
This year’s NCAA basketball tournament had an extra wrinkle for the Twins, since Mike Pelfrey is a Wichita native and a former Shocker himself. Last week, some Twins players preyed on his enthusiasm for the undefeated (but since eliminated) Shockers by taking part in a prank. As coordinated by MLB Fan Cave (whose website will post video of the prank this week), hidden cameras and microphones were installed in Ron Gardenhire’s office before the manager called Pelfrey in for a chat.
Gardenhire explained that Wichita State’s administration was asking the school’s most notable alumni to give motivational speeches to the basketball team, and they asked for Pelfrey’s help. Gardenhire dialed a number and put his pitcher on speakerphone with the players — or so believed a flattered Pelfrey, who summoned up as much gusto as he could to exhort his fellow Kansans.
“He starts giving them his life story — ‘I was born and raised in Wichita’ — they don’t want to hear that,” Gardenhire said. “He was entertaining. He was really red-faced, and finally he yells, ‘Kick some [butt]!’ ”
That’s when the laughter began, starting with Gardenhire and extending to the Twins clubhouse, where Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and some other relievers were playing the part of the basketball team.
“They got me. That was good. That was funny,” said Pelfrey, sounding as though he didn’t think it was all that funny. In fact, he said, “I thought about flattening [Perkins’] tires. I thought about leaving his car up on blocks. But I don’t know. … Something is going to happen.”
Oh, yeah? “If he wants to try to blow me up, it’s his bad, because believe me, I know more people than him,” Gardenhire warned. “I know a lot of cops. I’ll have that [guy] in jail.”
Maybe they should just stick to picking the bracket. But beware: Casey Fien apparently knows basketball. The righthander proudly displayed the Twins’ standings on Monday, with Fien’s two entries tied for the overall lead.
• Monday’s game with the Tampa Bay Rays was canceled because of a steady rain at Hammond Stadium and won’t be made up. Pelfrey, the scheduled starter, will throw in a minor league game Tuesday.
• The Twins and Athletics will wear “Stand Up to Cancer” patches on their uniforms during the Target Field opener April 7, as a show of support for General Manager Terry Ryan.
Kyle Gibson will make his final spring start, and Scott Diamond will follow with what could be his final appearance in a Twins uniform, at least for now, as Minnesota meets Baltimore in Fort Myers.