Not Nathan!

He was supposed to close out games in the inaugural season at Target Field. He was supposed to be the guy to close out games in an extended playoff run. He was supposed to take over the crown as the closer with the most saves in franchise history.

Sadly, it’s been learned today that none of those things will probably happen in 2010.
The word “probably” is used because closer Joe Nathan and fans are still holding out hope. Hope that two weeks of rehab and a high pain tolerance might help keep one of the best closers in professional baseball on the mound rather than on the operating table.
In the six seasons since joining the Minnesota Twins in the famous San Francisco Giants trade, Nathan has saved more games than any other closer in baseball. Yes, his 246 saves in that timeframe are more than future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, who closed out 243 in that same span.
Nathan is not replaceable. No pitcher within the organization can step in and fill his shoes, and you’d be hard pressed to find any other options that could either. Nathan has arguably been the best closer in baseball since his arrival in Minneapolis, and only a small number of closers, maybe limited to one or two others, could come close to matching his production.
While Nathan is irreplaceable, the Twins do still have alternatives. The relievers that first come to mind include Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek. 
Back in 2008, Rauch closed out 18 games, and he has the most career saves out of any other pitcher on the staff. Meanwhile, Guerrier has been a solid setup man who can miss some bats (he has the highest miss percentage next to Nathan), and before his own Tommy John Surgery, Neshek was a near All-Star who many viewed as the next closer. 
As spring training began, the questions all centered around the finishing touches for the Opening Day roster. Who would finish out the rotation? Who would round out the bench? Now the Twins are faced with a much bigger question. Who can come closest to matching the production of arguably the best closer in baseball?

Notes: Grass, Players and Hot Dogs

Spring Grass.jpg

The picture above is from today at Target Field. Gone is the snow and tarp, and here to stay is the grass which will require cutting throughout 2010. Outdoor baseball is drawing extremely close, and regular season tickets will go on sale to the public this Saturday.
Player News
** Joe Nathan has returned to Minneapolis for a tests on his right elbow. After getting one out and walking two this past Saturday, Nathan left with discomfort in his throwing arm. The move was described as precautionary, and the hope is that the discomfort is a normal part of Nathan’s minor off-season surgery.
** Nick Blackburn will be in Minnesota for the next four years after signing an extension Sunday morning. The righty agreed to terms on a 4-year, $14 million contract with a team option for another season at $8 million.
Hot Dogs
Gone are the Hormel hot dogs, but leaving with them will not be Dollar-A-Dog Night. The Minnesota Twins have announced that Schweigert’s will be the hot dog provider at Target Field this upcoming season, and that Dollar-A-Dog Night will remain but move to Monday nights. 
There will be five total Dollar-A-Dog Nights, and the schedule is as follows:
May 3rd – Detroit 
June 28th – Detroit 
July 19th – Cleveland 
September 6th – Kansas City 
September 20th – Cleveland
 Final note: Word is that the team store, Twins City, has opened for business at Target Field. 

Touring Target Field

It may just be a virtual look at the Minnesota Twins’ new home, but with MLB 10: The Show, the realism of Target Field and it’s surroundings show. From the skyline to the plaza to the features such as the celebration sign, the newest ballpark in Major League Baseball has been incredibly constructed in the virtual world. 

It’s time to enter into the stadium for a tour of some of the ballpark’s key features. 

City LandscapeThe skyline captures the best of Minneapolis. 

The PlazaThe plaza, complete with ‘Targets’.
OverhangMichael Cuddyer makes the play right in front of the overhang.
Overhang Side ViewHow many times will players look up and see no ball?
BackstopThe backstop feature’s Minnesota native limestone.
Centerfield TreesThe trees in centerfield will act as the Batter’s Eye.
BullpensReal bullpens for the first time in 28 seasons.
Out of Town ScoreboardHow much scoreboard watching will there be in 2010?
Twins' DugoutThe Twins’ dugout, relocated to the first base side.
Visitor's DugoutThe visitor’s dugout, now down the third base line.
ScoreboardOne of the largest scoreboards in Major League Baseball.
Admin BuildingThe administration building featuring the retired numbers and the party deck.
Celebration SignNow when players ‘Touch ‘Em All’, Minnie and Paul will shake hands.
To see the full size of each of these pictures to get the full effect of your Target Field tour, just click. Baseball has begun down south, and it’s start up north is nearing. 

Making the Team: Week 1

It’s always an interesting discussion as the roster begins to come together each year. With the first games of the spring comes the start of many competitions for positions and roster spots. This year the competitions are more minor, and the roster spots currently up for grabs include a fifth starting pitcher, a final relief pitcher, a backup catcher, and a final bench player. 

The battles are seemingly even in week one, but as games begin, players will begin to establish their opportunities to be with the big league club when they begin the season in Los Angeles, and open Target Field one week later.
Who do you think might jump into the mix? Who will take over the different battles? 

Player Chance Notes
Wilson Ramos (C) With backup catcher Jose Morales expected to miss at least the first part of April, Ramos has suddenly earned a chance to crack the Opening Day roster. His hitting is superior to his competition, but only time will tell if that’s enough for Gardy to take him north with the club.
Drew Butera (C) Butera will also earn a chance to crack the Opening Day roster, and while Ramos is all about offense, Butera is all about defense. A great glove and Triple-A experience could help Butera take the job.
Danny Valencia (3B) While Valencia is viewed by many as the future at third base, he isn’t young by any means. Valencia is 25-years old, and hasn’t yet been called to The Bigs. It’s a long shot that he’ll snatch the job in the next month, but this is his time to show off his skills for a chance in the near future. 
Alexi Casilla (IF) Casilla has no more options remaining, and if he doesn’t make the club out of spring training, he’ll almost certainly be with another organization. His option status may actually help him, but he’ll still need to be productive in the next month to secure a roster spot.
Matt Tolbert (IF) Matt Tolbert can play all around the infield, and if he can play centerfield, it’ll make him even more valuable. With one option remaining, the Twins could eventually opt to send him to Triple-A and go with Casilla if spring production is similar or neither blow the team away.
Jacque Jones (OF) When the Twins first brought back Jacque Jones, it seemed to simply be a kind gesture to their former starting outfielder. Jones has an uphill battle to climb, but if he can play extraordinary defense, hit well, and have Tolbert and Casilla falter in their outfield attempts, he has an outside chance to rejoin the organization in Minneapolis.  

Francisco Liriano (SP) If Francisco Liriano produces anywhere near the way he did this winter, he’ll likely take the final spot in the rotation easily. It likely won’t be easy with at least two other competitors, but with his contract structured for appearances in the bullpen too, he’s likely to make the team in some capacity. 
Brian Duensing (SP) Brian Duensing will have a difficult time knocking Liriano out of the rotation battle if ‘The Franchise’ pitches the way he did in Venezuelan ball, but he seems to also have a shot at the bullpen if he can’t get into the starting five. 
Glen Perkins (SP) The general consensus amongst many is that Glen Perkins will be traded. While that may be the case, if he performs well this spring and the offerings aren’t to the team’s liking, Perkins could be kept around as a left-handed option out of the ‘pen.
Pat Neshek (RP) Everybody hopes that Pat Neshek will return to his pre-injury form and put the team’s bullpen over the top. With one bullpen spot open and the extra starters in the mix for the spot as well, it’s possible that Neshek, who hasn’t pitched in a game in 14 months, could pitch for a week or so in extended spring training before joining the team at Target Field. 
Mike Maroth (RP) Mike Maroth doesn’t seem to have much of a chance to make the big league roster. Instead, a good spring performance could give him a job at Triple-A Rochester and give him a shot down the line in the event that injuries occur. 

Photo Day in Fort Myers

Players line up each spring and smile for their yearly photos. Right as games near a start, the complete roster took their pictures for the 2010 season. For the first time, J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome put on Twins’ uniforms, and the rest of the roster got back into the swing of things too.

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The Show: Target Field

Next Tuesday, MLB 10: The Show will hit store shelves. Sony has sent along some exclusive screenshots that show off Target Field and the Minneapolis skyline. The skyline has never been used in a sports video game before this year.

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This is Joe Mauer

Next Tuesday, MLB 10: The Show will hit shelves across the country. For the first time, Target Field will play host to games, J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson will dawn Twins’ uniforms, and Joe Mauer will take the field as an American League MVP. 
It’ll all happen virtually of course.

Minnesota Twins Audio Archive

Audio Archive.png
The Minnesota Twins will celebrate their 50th year in Minneapolis when they begin the 2010 season, and there will without a doubt be many moments worth celebrating. Division titles and league championships are just a few of those great moments.
The team history is great, and from famous calls to team anthems, and famous quotes to catchy songs, the audio archive is large in inventory. Below you can find some of the best of the collection. 
There is surely more out there worth adding, and if you have any hints, send them on over. The list will be updated regularly, so check back often and enjoy the great history of the Minnesota Twins.   

World Series Clinchers

1987 World Champions

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.png1987%20WS.mp3

1991 World Champions

Herb Carneal – 1991 World Champions

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngTwins%20Last%20Season%20in%20the%20Metrodome.mp3



The Calls

Dick Bremer – Jason Kubel’s Grand Slam
John Gordon – “Touch ‘Em All Kirby Puckett!”
Jack Buck – “And We’ll See You Tomorrow Night!”
Chip Caray – 2009 Central Division Champions
Team Anthems 


We’re Gonna Win Twins – Long Version

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngWe%27re%20Gonna%20Win%20Twins.mp3



Kirby Puckett

Bob Casey Announces Kirby

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngKirby%20Puckett-%20A%20Tribute%20of%20a%20Legend.mp3

Kirby’s Famous Quote
“Greatest Fans in the World”

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngPt%206%20Minnesota%20Twins%201991%20World%20Series%20Champions%20Simply%20the%20Best.mp3

Twins Songs

The Hold Steady – Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Minnesota)

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngThe%20Hold%20Steady%20-%20Take%20Me%20Out%20To%20The%20Ballgame.mp3

A&R – Joe Mauer Walkup Song
The Homer Hanky Song
1991 Team Song

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.png1991%20Minnesota%20Twins%20-%20Team%20Song.mp3

Pitching Staff – Ode to Joy

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3247397568-audio-player.swf?audioUrl=http://mlblogsvoicefromtwinsterritory.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/audio20archive1.pngTwins%20Singing%20Ode%20To%20Joy%20Commercial.mp3

They’ve Arrived

Pitchers and catchers have finally kick-started spring training with their arrival in the Minnesota Twins’ spring home of Fort Myers, Florida. Joe Mauer is present and already answering questions about his contract status, and newcomers J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson are in town a week early.

The Associated Press is on the scene, and you can find more photos at the team gallery
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Interview: Orlando Hudson

O-Dog.pngIn need of a second baseman, the Minnesota Twins waited until early February to make their move. The transaction came in the form of Orlando Hudson, a two-time All-Star and active participant in the community.
Orlando was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule, and just before team workouts begin next week, answer some questions for an interview on his decision to join the organization, his charity and more.
A Voice From Twins Territory: Growing up in South Carolina, who was your favorite baseball team, and who were a few of your favorite players?

Orlando Hudson: The New York Mets were my favorite team. Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey, Jr. were some of my favorite players.

AVFTT: Who is one person or a few people who have helped you along the path to professional baseball?

OH: My father and my uncles Lynwood and Boyd helped me a lot growing up. They would have me in the yard playing baseball all the time. My father showed me how to play the game as he was a great baseball player himself, and still loves to play today.

AVFTT: What is the greatest part of being a professional baseball player, and what are a few of your greatest memories?

OH: The greatest part of being a professional baseball player is that God chose only a few of us to play the hardest sport there is, and that makes us special. A few of my greatest memories are winning four gold gloves, making two all-star teams, and hitting for the cycle.

AVFTT: What has the experience been like to go from a late-round draft selection to a Gold Glove defender and an All-Star second baseman?

OH: It does not matter how early or late you go in the draft, what matters is working hard to get there and stay.

AVFTT: How difficult has it been to battle through thumb and wrist injuries throughout your career? What has helped get you through those tough moments?

OH: Prayer and family support has helped me to get through the tough injuries. They were just stepping stones God put in my path to make me stronger.

AVFTT: How do you feel right now? What is a normal day like for you during the off-season?

OH: I feel great right now. A normal day for me is getting up to hunt before day break then taking the kids to school. I go to the gym daily. I enjoy spending time with my family and children every day as well.

AVFTT: You founded the C.A.T.C.H. foundation, what is your primary goal with that charity, and what have been some of the best things that you’ve been able to do with it?

OH: The primary goal of the C.A.T.C.H. Foundation is to raise awareness and funds about autism while helping families and children cope with it. I have been able to have events in my home town and the city I play in, and raise money that is donated to SARRC, which is a foundation that deals with research for autism. In my home town of Darlington, the money goes to the county Autism Program.

AVFTT: The Twins’ organization has often been well connected with the community, what are some things you hope to do in your time with the organization and in the Twin Cities?

OH: I hope to raise awareness and funds for autism of course, but I also plan to work with the RBI program through my Around the Mound Tour which helps inner city kids get more involved in baseball.

AVFTT: You talked with several teams for quite some time before choosing Minnesota. Were the Twins interested early on, and what were some of the selling points that ultimately had you choose Minnesota?

OH: Yes, I talked with several teams, but the Twins were not one of them early on. Minneapolis is a great city and having to play with the best hitter in the game, Joe Mauer, are some of the reasons why I chose Minnesota. Not to mention the great fans!

AVFTT: What are your thoughts on having the chance to hit between Denard Span and Joe Mauer, and play with the likes of Jim Thome and Justin Morneau among others? 

OH: This will be one great experience with all the speed and power in the lineup.

AVFTT: Have you had the opportunity to see the team’s new stadium, Target Field? 

OH: I have not seen the stadium in person, but I have seen pictures and it looks nice. I know I am going to fr
eeze!

AVFTT: You’re known as the O-Dog, where did that nickname come from? 

OH: O-Dog was a name that some of my boys came up with in high school after the movie ‘Menace to Society’ came out. My dad’s nickname is Dog.

AVFTT: You’re known as an outdoorsman who likes to both fish and hunt, are you excited to get outdoors in Minnesota this spring and summer? 

OH: I do like the outdoors because of its beautiful nature, but I do not plan to fish or hunt in Minnesota.

AVFTT: As you continue your career, what are your goals both on and off the field?

OH:: As I continue my career I would like to expand my foundation and open an autistic school in Darlington, South Carolina and hopefully one day make the Hall of Fame. I want to also be known as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball.

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