Even the excitement of a pennant race can't beat the lure of home.
That's what Twins athletic trainer Dave Pruemer has decided after 24 years in the organization, and 13 in the major leagues. Pruemer will retire once the season ends in order to move his family back to his and wife, Tina's, tiny rural hometown of Teutopolis, Ill.
"It's one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make," said Pruemer, who will throw out the first pitch before Saturday's game with the Tigers. But his children, Hannah, Dylan and Tyler, are now 16, 13 and 11, and "it was just time to get home and see the kids more. They're at an age now where I realized, I don't want to miss everything. I feel like I miss too much. I don't want to travel eight months a year anymore."
Pruemer, 46, was hired by the Twins in 1995, shortly after graduating from Southern Illinois, and he worked at nearly every level of the system, starting at rookie-level Elizabethton through Class AAA Rochester. He was promoted to the major leagues in 2005, and has been the team's head athletic trainer in 2013.
"I've think I've known Dave my entire career," said Joe Mauer, drafted by the Twins in 2001. "We shared a lot of laughs, and a lot of not-so-good times, too. But he's been consistent the whole way through, every day, and you really appreciate that, especially in this sport."
Added second baseman Brian Dozier: "He's very blue-collar. He's not a trainer who's going to baby you. He's a country guy who always shot it to you straight."
After smashing an upper-deck home run in the second inning Friday, Eduardo Escobar waved his arms as he neared home plate, kissed his right hand and held it to the sky. The gesture had more meaning than usual for the Twins third baseman.
Escobar's grandfather, Marquiade Escobar, died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Venezuela. The 79-year-old had recently been hospitalized with a bout of bronchitis, his grandson said, but had been released and appeared to be recovering when he was stricken.
Escobar grew up about 15 miles from his grandfather, he said, and they were very close. "He always supported me," Escobar said. "Mucho."
All of the Twins got to celebrate the team's playoff slot Wednesday night in Cleveland, but not everybody will be coming to the wild-card game Tuesday, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. And so he began the somewhat difficult process on Friday of informing players that they probably won't be on the playoff roster.
"You want to err on over-communicating those things," Molitor said of breaking the bad news to players. "Some [meetings] have already happened, and some will happen tomorrow."
Molitor said he had discussions with Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, General Manager Thad Levine and their staffs on Friday about what shape the roster might take next Tuesday against either the Yankees or Red Sox. It's likely they will have 10 or 11 pitchers on the roster for the game, Molitor said.
The Twins don't have to turn in a final roster until Tuesday, Molitor said, and they might need the time to make a few final calls. Miguel Sano's status "is the wild card," he said. "A lot of people have contributed and not everybody is going to have a chance to be a part of it. It's just the way it is."
• The Twins don't get to play host to the wild-card game, but that doesn't mean fans can't watch it at Target Field. The team will open the Delta Sky 360 level to fans, who can watch the 7 p.m. game on the scoreboard. Admission is free, and the team will provide games and music, with concession stands open.