Twins Caravan features talk of 2012 turnaroundBASEBALL: The Minnesota Twins 52nd annual Winter Caravan stopped at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth on Monday, and based on the turnout, one would think the Twins won 99 games last summer, not lost that many.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
The Minnesota Twins 52nd annual Winter Caravan stopped at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth on Monday, and based on the turnout, one would think the Twins won 99 games last summer, not lost that many.
Fans packed Grandma’s Sports Garden to see up-and-coming outfielders Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni, former Twins great Tony Oliva, sportscaster Dick Bremer and mascot T.C. Bear, who “high-foured” youngsters.
“Our fans are the same no matter what. They always come out to support us,” Revere said. “They’re disappointed with last season, just like we are, but they understand the situation. Deep down in my gut right now, I’ve got this feeling that the Minnesota Twins will do something spectacular this year.”
The big thing, Revere said, is staying healthy.
Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, a pair of former American League Most Valuable Players, appeared in only 69 and 82 games, respectively, last season because of a variety of ailments, with Morneau mostly bothered by post-concussion syndrome the past two seasons.
The Twins proceeded to stumble, going 63-99 in 2011, the second-most losses since the team moved to Minnesota in 1961. Minnesota finished
32 games behind the Tigers after winning the American League Central in 2009 and 2010.
Tosoni, who like Morneau is from Canada, has been working out with the first baseman, and both he and Revere said the slugger is looking forward to spring training next month.
“Justin is coming along just fine, and he’s still smiling and has a great attitude. He’ll be back, I promise you,” Revere said. “You go into a season trying to win 99 games, not lose that many, but we’ll be alright. Injuries were so huge for us last year, so if we can stay healthy, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Revere, 23, had 34 stolen bases in just 117 games last season, and the former Midwest League Player of the Year delivered more than a half-dozen highlight reel plays in the outfield during his first full season in the majors last summer.
That was enough to endure him to Twins fans, including friends Andrew Green, 13, and Darby Henderson, 14, of Duluth, who got a photo together with Revere.
“My attitude about the Twins doesn’t change, so long as Ben is playing,” Henderson said of Revere, who has quickly become his favorite player. “He’s just so fast and makes all those great plays in the field. He’s fun to watch.”
Every Twins season has highlights, no matter how bad the record, and 2011 had more than most. The Twins Winter Caravan is always skilled at showcasing the high points, with Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter, Jim Thome’s 600th career home run and Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame induction featured prominently Monday. There was also a special tribute to former Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew, who passed away last May.
“As disappointing of a season as 2011 was, it was also a very interesting season,” Bremer said.
One can only imagine what 2012 will bring, but it’s already off to a great start.
Revere predicted something spectacular would happen this year, and it took all of one Twins Winter Caravan stop to prove it. The grand finale Monday night featured Tosoni, who with intense concentration, solved a Rubik’s Cube in an unofficial 6 minutes, 23 seconds to the crowd’s delight.
Twins fans only can hope the players are equally skilled at baseball.
“We had a lot of fans who kept coming out even at the end of last season,” Revere said. “That took a lot of loyalty. It was a tough season, no question, but I know everyone is excited to get back at it.”