The official announcement that the St. Paul Saints would become the top affiliate for the Twins came on Dec. 9, 2020. The distance of 11 miles from Target Field east to CHS Field was presented as a boon for the Twins in several areas, including moving players back and forth.
This seemed overstated to me, based on an assumption the Twins and the Saints would try to avoid being home at the same time.
After all, there's a finite number of baseball fans, and surveys suggest that number is being reduced every time one of us old-timers appears in the obits.
Dave St. Peter, the Twins president, said:
"We thought about the potential effect of being home at the same time. Then, Marv Goldklang, the principal owner in St. Paul, reminded us the Saints and the Twins had operated since 1993 paying no attention to one another's schedules, without much impact.
"Obviously, we were selling different products when they were an independent team, and we're still reaching different crowds. We decided to just let the schedules fall where they fall."
The benefit of proximity bragged about back in December 2020 came to the Twins' benefit dramatically Friday.
The Twins came home from Baltimore having looked at an X-ray indicating a broken finger for Carlos Correa, the $36 million shortstop and recently showing his talents as advertised.
The Saints were on a homestand and Royce Lewis, No. l overall draft choice in 2017, found out in a morning call that he should head for Minneapolis to make his big-league debut on Friday night vs. Oakland, when he went 1-for-4 in a 2-1 victory.
A magnetic resonance imaging exam showed Correa didn't have a fracture, and he could be able to play in a few days. Another infielder, Luis Arraez, was in a Baltimore hotel waiting to cleared from the current variety of COVID-19. And first baseman Miguel Sano is out for weeks after knee surgery.
Presto. The Twins summoned two more players from St. Paul on Friday: first baseman/outfielder Alex Kirilloff and pitcher Cole Sands, with Correa remaining on the active roster.
The Class AAA schedules were raised from 140 to 150 games this season, pushing the finish back to late September to coincide closely with the majors.
The Saints were scheduled for 13 six-game homestands, with the Twins home for all or parts of nine of those.
Not only does the 20-minute commute from CHS Field (when MnDOT isn't up to its high-jinks) easily defeat the 6:21 a.m. flight from Rochester, N.Y., for bringing in Class AAA reinforcements, but it also offers the freshest possible scouting reports.
Sean Aronson, straight shooter, radio voice of Saints, team official, was asked for his one-month view of Lewis as the Class AAA shortstop.
"First and foremost, what always catches your attention is the pure hustle," Aronson said. "Every time, he runs out of the box harder than anyone.
"After that, it is Royce's straight-out athletic ability. Every night, you would look around the field and said, 'He's the best athlete out there.'"
Also: "Everything you've heard about Royce Lewis is true. He's genuinely as nice a kid as you're going to meet."
In June 2017, the Twins had the first choice in the amateur draft. The leading contenders were high schoolers: infielder Royce Lewis and pitcher Hunter Greene.
The Twins chose Lewis. Scott Boras, the representative for both players, was at the Target Field for a mid-June news conference to introduce Lewis after his quick signing.
Talking informally, Boras said: "You couldn't go wrong with either, but for what the Twins look for in their players, Royce was the right choice. No ego; just hard work."
Greene and his 100-plus-mph fastball debuted with Cincinnati vs. Atlanta on April 10. The Reds won that one. Since then, they have lost 20 of 21 and Greene has taken four losses with an ERA over 8.00.
Which means nothing in the comparison, as it does not in the fact it took a month longer for Lewis to reach the big leagues — or that he's presumably headed back to St. Paul when Correa is ready.
You can't say Lewis is behind schedule, not at 23 in June, not without a minor league season due to the pandemic in 2020, and a missed 2021 recovering surgery to repair a torn ACL.
"The good news we got on Carlos today was a relief for all of us," said Derek Falvey, the Twins' baseball boss. "If he's back soon and that makes this just a first taste of the big leagues for Royce, that's fine, too.
"Physically, Royce is 100 percent back. As a shortstop; one thing is he's an athlete capable of some stupendous plays."
There will be more of those to be seen locally this summer — if not in Minneapolis, then St. Paul.