It’s Spring Training time, and there’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s my list:
Sure, the games don’t have the same sense of urgency that regular season games do, but it’s baseball. It has been far too long since the Twins took the field. Normally a roster full of AA and AAA players wouldn’t be as exciting to watch as the Major League squad, but after watching a roster full of AA and AAA guys playing for the Twins in 2011, I’m sure I won’t notice any difference in quality this spring!
Cory Provus’s Broadcasting
Most Spring Training games are not televised, so unless you’ve got some money and vacation time saved up for a trip to Florida, you will most likely have to listen to the games on the radio. This year there’s an extra incentive to watch, because the Twins have a brand new play-by-play guy stolen from Milwaukee. Will Cory Provus’s voice become as familiar to us as John Gordon’s ubiquitous tenor? Only time will tell. But I’m eager to hear what he has to offer. Remember, this man trained under Bob Uecker, who in addition to starring in Mr. Belvedere and the Major League movies is one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time.
The Twins bullpen looks like a jump ball this spring. Five or six guys seem likely to make it, but there are so many pitchers in Ft. Myers that a fierce competition is bound to break out. The ‘pen figures to be at the epicenter of the competition, but some other position battles may capture our attention. Can Tsuyoshi Nishioka fight to regain his job in the middle infield? Can Brian Dozier take one away? Is Sean Burroughs a legitimate choice at third base or just a sideshow? How about Brian Duensing fighting for his rotation spot? And is Drew Butera guaranteed to occupy the number three catcher position?
Seeing Veterans Play
Forget the regular season injuries last year for a second and think back to Spring Training. Justin Morneau wasn’t cleared to play until a large portion of the spring was done. Joe Mauer was held back due to a recent surgery. Delmon Young missed most of the games with a toe injury. Michael Cuddyer was out of action with a giant wart, proving that the injury gods not only hated the Twins, but had a creative sense of humor. Francisco Liriano got a late start because he was out of shape…. the list goes on. All of these players missed significant time in Spring Trianing, and all of them suffered in the regular season as a result. I don’t care how well they play this Spring; I just want to see all of them play the whole spring and get ready for Opening Day.
Seeing the Young Guys Play
But perhaps the most entertaining part of Spring Training is watching all the young players trying to make the team or trying to impress the big league coaching staff so that they could make the team in the future. Some of these guys will be starting for the Twins in a few years, so it’s good to get a sneak peak at their playing styles. Others will never be heard from again (I swear there was a player named Orlando Dilema in camp with the Twins in the early 90′s, but I can’t find anything about him on Google). Every year, one or two unknown players emerges to have a great spring. Last year Danny Rams hit .500 with four doubles in limited duty and Luke Hughes launched six home runs.
What are you looking forward to this Spring? If you’re not feeling too shy, go ahead and write about it in the comments field below!