The ovations grew louder and louder on Saturday as the Twins celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1965 team that won the American League pennant.
They were loud for Jim Perry, louder for Mudcat Grant and even louder for Jim Kaat.
Tony Oliva was the last player to be announced, and he was greeted with a standing ovation.
The program included two video presentations, one narrated by legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, and there was a taped message from 93-year-old manager Sam Mele, who could not attend.
Mele, who lives in Massachusetts, said that he looks at his Manager of the Year award from that season every day in his den.
“They should have put all your names on it because you won it,” Mele said.
Oliva stepped to the microphone and drew applause when he challenged the current Twins team “to do what we did then and win the pennant.”
A total of 21 players and coaches from the team were on hand for the ceremony. At the end, the team threw first pitches to the 2015 Twins.
“All you veteran fans who remember the old men, thanks for the memories,” Kaat said.
Jepsen is ready
Twins manager Paul Molitor briefly met with his newest reliever, Kevin Jepsen, and told him he won’t appear in a game before the seventh inning.
“We’re going to have to see how the later stages of the game play out until you get acclimated here a little bit,” Molitor said. “But I’m not going to have any hesitation using him and getting big outs.”
That sounded fine to Jepsen, who was dealt to the Twins on Friday from Tampa Bay for two minor league pitchers.
“The communication is the biggest part of relievers,” Jepsen said. “To know exactly where you stand is all you can ask for as a player.”
Jepsen brings a fastball that averages 94.4 miles per hour, curveball and occasional changeup to the Twins bullpen. Most important, he can match up better with dangerous hitters than most of his new teammates. The Twins began the season establishing roles in the bullpen, but things changed when Casey Fien suffered a shoulder injury in late April. Lately, it’s been ineffectiveness, as the Twins had to turn to onetime starter Trevor May to pitch in the eighth inning.
The Twins hope Jepsen, 2-5 with a 2.81 ERA, can help get the ball to closer Glen Perkins.
“From everything I’ve heard, he wants the ball and he wants it often,” Molitor said. “We’ll see how he responds.”
Jepsen has experience in being part of bullpens that have assigned appearances based on which inning it is or strictly based on matchups. He has seen both approaches work out.
“With Tampa it was very versatile,” Jepsen said. “It was more matchups than it was set innings.”
Eduardo and Eduardo
With the demotions of Danny Santana and Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez will share shortstop duties.
Molitor said he could end up playing the hot hand if one of them starts playing well. But, for now, he’s going give them starts based on matchups. Escobar started on Saturday.
Santana was the Opening Day starter at short but has played himself into two trips to Class AAA Rochester this season. The Twins are trying to reach the postseason with a key position in flux.
The one thing Molitor planned to tell both Escobar and Nunez was not to press when they get a chance to play
“I don’t really want them to feel like they have to go out there and earn the right to play,” Molitor said.
Buxton to Florida
Rookie outfielder Byron Buxton will head to Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday to continue his comeback from a sprained left thumb suffered June 24.
Molitor even said Buxton’s situation has “accelerated” in recent days. Buxton went through full pregame work with the club before Saturday’s game.
Buxton will likely take live batting practice for a couple of days, then play some games for Class A Fort Myers before moving to tougher competition.