It won’t happen at Target Field, but the possibility still exists that Twins fans, if only a few, might get to attend Twins games this season.
So said Twins President Dave St. Peter, whose team plans to regard this week’s wild-card playoff round “as a bit of a test run,” he said, toward allowing fans into ballparks later in the postseason.
“Hopefully, we’re going to advance and go on to the bubble” in California for the second and third rounds, St. Peter said, “but we also expect that there will be fans in those later rounds, particularly at the World Series, if we were to get there.”
Those games will be at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. But the Twins will have a few more spectators than usual in Target Field this week, too.
“We will have players’ families and staff members’ families in the ballpark for the playoffs. And in addition, we were able to invite our own [non-clubhouse-level] staff to come to the games. So there will be some fans,” St. Peter said. “We’re going to learn some things during the wild-card round [about] pod seating, similar to what they did with the St. Paul Saints this year. And we think that will be to the benefit, over the long run, to returning fans en masse to this ballpark.”
Byron Buxton “feels better today than yesterday, which is a good sign,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, and he’s hopeful that Buxton’s headaches, a result of being beaned by a Lucas Sims pitch on Friday, will have disappeared in time for him to play in the playoff opener Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Josh Donaldson, who also sat out Sunday’s game after experiencing cramps in his right calf, “spent the whole day in the training room getting worked on,” Baldelli said. “I said we’re going to treat this, not even day-to-day but maybe hour-to-hour. We haven’t had any setbacks.”
Luis Arraez described his sore knee and ankle as “100 percent” again, and played no role in Baldelli pinch-hitting for him in the 10th inning Sunday.
That was just caution, the manager said.
“Late in the game, once we knew we had clinched the division, there were a few guys that maybe we wanted to get off [their] feet, that we didn’t have to send up to the plate,” Baldelli explained of removing Arraez for Ehire Adrianza. “Nellie [Cruz] was also not going to hit again. It just felt like it made sense.”
Gone, not forgotten
The Twins emerged from their dugout shortly after the game ended to take a division championship photo on the Target Field tarp. As the players and coaches posed, a couple held up the jerseys of Bill Evers and Bob McClure, the coaches, both in their 60s, who were told not to work this season because of the risk of becoming COVID-infected.
“I was just scrolling through [texts] a second ago and saw some from those guys. They’re with us every day that we’re here. I know they’re thinking of us,” Baldelli said. “I know they’re watching every game and they contribute a ton to helping us do our jobs. I know they wish they were here but I know they’re enjoying this moment from home.”
St. Peter on the Twins’ 16-game postseason losing streak: “There aren’t many people inside of this clubhouse that have that monkey on their back. I’m one of the few, right? It’s more my history and maybe some of the old veterans of the front office, so to speak. I’m not sure it’s as relevant as maybe the media and my family make it.”