Spring has sprung, at least for baseball

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I know, I know, I know—the baseball season has started!  Here I am, hurrying to catch up as usual. I have to admit baseball took a back seat to the Olympics for me in February. I love every minute of the Olympics from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, and everything in between. It is the stories of the Olympic athletes that catch my attention and keep me watching to see if indeed their dreams will be fulfilled. And there was plenty of drama to follow this year. How about Joannie Rochette from Canada who lost her mother at the beginning of the Olympics and went on to skate for a bronze medal? Or Apolo Ohno earning his 8th career Olympic medal, making him the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete? Then there was the gold medal in bobsledding for the US (the first since 1948), gold for Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller in skiing, the 14 gold medals earned by Canada (when they were worried about winning their first ever gold medal on home soil this year), and the hockey rivalry between Canada and the United States. And between all these victories was the agony of the athletes who spent four years training and in one second made the mistake that took them from the competition.


But the Olympics are done and I am now able to open the sports section every day and see baseball drama unfolding. Spring training has the drama and emotions of the Olympics in some ways. There are the injured players who come into spring ready to condition themselves and prepare for the long season ahead of them. There are the veterans who are looking for one more chance to play the game they love. And, of course, there are the players who are just starting out and those who have spent several years in the minor leagues, hoping that this is the spring training season that will move them up to the major league roster.


I am so happy to see Jacque Jones back in Twins camp. After playing very little baseball the past two seasons he is hoping to prove that he can still contribute and win a roster spot with the Twins. He has already told them that if he does not make the 25-man roster he is happy to start in AAA and hope for the opportunity to move up to the majors later in the season. And the Twins need another outfielder. After spending several years with a surplus of outfielders the Twins now have the opposite situation. With Carlos Gomez traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, Denard Span has become the starting center fielder. Michael Cuddyer will hold down right field and Delmon Young will start the season at left field. Young came into camp 30 pounds lighter and ready to play after the difficult season he had last year when his 53-year old mother passed away from pancreatic cancer in May 2009.


The Twins also lost Jason Pridie on waivers to the New York Mets. Kubel will still play outfield as he shares DH time with Jim Thome. The real problem is that the Twins do not have a back-up center fielder. Expect to see lots of players getting a chance at that position this spring. Jones played there yesterday in the Twins’ first game of spring training and Alexi Casilla was there for part of the game today. Gardenhire has said that officially Cuddyer will play center field when Span is not available but Cuddyer does not have the speed he needs to effectively cover that position.


And, of course, the other story is Target Field. I have my season tickets, I have my exhibition tickets, I have my opener tickets, I have info about the open house for season ticket holders, I have my password to order single game tickets, I have my group tickets lined up.  More about Target Field next time—including information about the Gophers game on March 27 that is open to the public for just $2.00.


In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the sounds of baseball. Indeed, it is back.