I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Twins vs Tigers, March 11, 2006

Ed: Sorry, photos are broken.

Unfortunately the pictures are forever broken on this post.

(See day two here)

We arrived at Lee County Sports Complex at 10AM as my research signified this as the start time for practice. We were so on point that we beat the parking lot attendants to their posts and did not need to pay for parking. Naturally we offered to pay when the attendants arrived, but our attempts were rebuffed.

What awaited us was some good old-fashioned outdoor baseball.

The Wife and The Kid are ready for some baseball The Wife and The Kid are ready for some baseball

We first headed to field #5, directly west of the main stadium. This is where practice is located for players not scheduled to play the day’s game. Immediately we recognized Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva and Ron Gardenhire warming themselves up for practice as the team proper stretched and ran in the outfield.

Gardy lets the dogs out Gardy lets the dogs out

It was a fun environment as only the chainlink separated us from infield practice. We found the coaches quite obnoxious, playfully chiding the players every chance they got. Kelly was really giving it to the new second baseman, Luis Castillo, who was not getting in front of any ground balls due to his tender ankle. Gardy also had an interesting tactic of coming down on anyone who hit well off him in batting practice. I know it is “just a game,” but it seemed a little counterintuitive that he was hoping to strike out his players in batting practice.

Kelly aching to hit some grounders T.K. aching to hit some grounders

In the stadium, the team painted a couple “on deck circles” in honor of Kirby Puckett. Oh, that number.

Ol' #34 Ol' #34

I did not notice the familiarity of this scene until I got home and started looking through my pictures. The Wife said “KDLT” and the memories flooded back. Interviewing Shannon Stewart is long time man-about-Sioux-Falls-South-Dakota, Mark Ovenden. I’m pretty sure Ovenden has been a sports anchor for every news affiliate in Sioux Falls at one time or another. As a child of southwest Minnesota, he’s immediately recognizable to me. Weird.

Shannon Stewart and Mark Ovenden Shannon Stewart and Mark Ovenden

Before the game started I spied with my little eye Mr. Al Newman, now a scout for the Kansas City Royals. We were situated behind home plate and he was making his way out of the stadium. I pulled my recently purchased Twins logo ball out of my pocket as I asked The Wife to verify who we were seeing. Even though he had lost considerable weight, it was clearly Al Newman.

I’m not one to aggressively attempt to grab autographs. It embarrasses me a little bit. I’m just generally introverted, so The Wife stepped in. “Hey, Al!” I believe she said. First name basis! Anyway, he semi-reluctantly signed for us. Actually, he bantered with us about stopping him on a “walk by signing.” All-in-all a pretty congenial little back-and-forth. I believe he signed one more item before escaping.

The pitching matchup was a decent one (on paper) featuring Brad Radke versus Nate Robertson. Radke started the game off without allowing a run. What a wonderful thing. Unfortunately he did allow two runs in the second inning, but those runs became largely inconsequential. Well inconsequential unless you were hoping Radke would develop a distaste for the long ball this season. Yep, the runs scored on two (thankfully) solo homers.

Brad Radke gives it a whirl Brad Radke gives it a whirl

The offense was alive for the Twins on this day. Three home runs were hit, two by Rondell White and another by Tony “The Evangelist” Batista. The fans adored the power output, as I’m sure did the coaches.

Rondell White looked good against his old team Rondell White looked good against his old team

Unfortunately, White’s home runs were both solo shots. I should have kept score - I forgot how pitiful the box scores are for preseason matchups. I seem to remember some negative things about all the scoring, but I could be confusing myself with the second game. In any case, when will Batista have hit poorly enough consistently enough for some team to force him into a real batting stance?

Tony Batista will make you cringe Tony Batista will make you cringe

It was certainly a fun game to watch as the Twins put out two 6-run innings. There were lots of Tiger fans as well and they were screaming for the manager to take out Robertson early on. The shouts fell on deaf ears, however, because starting pitchers are rarely taken out mid-inning in Spring Training play.

And the game progressed. Outdoor baseball, a fun time any time. I will say that it got pretty hot in the packed stadium, and The under-two-year-old Kid probably could have done without baking so. For families with younger children I’d highly recommend booking tickets in the top 10 or so rows, especially on the third base side, for the shade provided. It’s not like they’re bad seats or anything. And I’ve decided I don’t really enjoy sitting behind the netting. My perfect seats would be right between the netting and the dugout - at least that’s what I think until I actually get to sit in such seats.

We happened to park right next to the players parking lot exit. This also put us right next to Puckett Parkway.

Puckett signage Puckett signage

From what I could tell, AAA and below players did not get the advantage of the fenced in parking. There were many techniques for players pulling out of the lot. Some players kind of ignored the fans or gave them a cursory look. Others definitely waived and smiled, but were not stopping. The cagey veterans (Shannon Stewart and Rueben Sierra, for instance) “talked” on their cell phones when leaving the lot with a quick wave.

Lew Ford was flagged down on this day. He stopped his SUV, wife and child in tow, and began signing. Unfortunately for Joe Mauer and his chromed out Chrysler 300 (you heard me), he was stuck behind Ford and forced to sign away. I hustled over and got me a JM7 autograph to go with my Newman. I then approached Ford’s vehicle to find him and his wife having a detailed conversation with an older couple who obviously knew them. I listened in for a while as it was interesting hearing Ford talk about his golf game, but I wasn’t willing to interrupt their conversation. I made note of Ford’s severely damaged driver-side mirror, laughed to myself as anyone who knows Ford’s personality would, and moseyed back to my car.

JM7 and Newmie signed me a ball JM7 and Newmie signed me a ball

Pretty fun time, all-in-all. I highly recommend it. The boxscore trails this entry and I will post about the second game in our Spring Training visit later.

(See day two here)

              1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  R
  DET (7 - 3) 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0  3
  MIN (7 - 4) 6 1 0 6 0 0 1 0 X 14


   DETROIT          AB  R  H BI  MINNESOTA        AB  R  H BI
   N Logan cf        4  0  0  0  S Stewart lf      3  1  2  1
   B Clevlen rf      0  0  0  0  J Rabe lf         2  0  0  1
   T Giarratano ss   4  1  1  0  N Punto 2b        3  1  1  0
   C Shelton 1b      3  0  0  0  L Rodriguez 2b    2  0  1  1
   A Gomez dh        3  0  0  0  J Mauer c         4  1  2  1
   S Young dh        1  0  0  0  M Redmond c       1  0  1  0
   B Inge 3b         3  0  1  1  K Phillips c      0  1  0  0
   M Thames rf       3  1  1  1  R White dh        3  2  2  2
   C Maybin rf       1  0  0  0  J Kubel dh        2  0  0  0
   M Hessman lf      3  1  1  1  T Hunter cf       3  1  1  1
   B Timm lf         0  0  0  0  D Span cf         2  1  1  0
   M Rabelo c        2  0  0  0  T Tiffee 1b       3  2  2  2
   D Sanchez c       2  0  0  0  G Jones 1b        2  0  0  0
   R Santiago 2b     2  0  2  0  T Batista 3b      3  1  1  2
   B Colvin 2b       1  0  0  0  S Wooten 3b       2  0  0  0
                                 M Cuddyer rf      2  1  2  1
                                 L Ford rf         2  1  1  0
                                 A Romero rf       1  0  0  0
                                 J Bartlett ss     4  1  3  0
                                 T Watkins 2b      1  0  0  0
   TOTALS           32  3  6  3  TOTALS           45 14 20 12

   DETROIT                   020 001 000 --  3
   MINNESOTA                 610 600 10x -- 14

   E--N Logan 3, T Giarratano. DP--MINNESOTA 1.
   LOB--DETROIT 5, MINNESOTA 7. 2B--B Inge, T Tiffee,
   L Ford, J Mauer, S Stewart, D Span. HR--M Thames 1
   (2) (off B Radke), M Hessman 1 (2) (off B Radke),
   R White 2 (2) (off L Gardner, N Robertson), T
   Batista 1 (1) (off L Gardner).
                                     IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
   N Robertson (L,1-1)                2   8   7   4   0   0   1
   L Gardner                      1 2-3   9   6   6   0   1   2
   P Larrison                     2 1-3   1   0   0   0   0   0
   F German                           1   2   1   1   0   1   0
   M Woodyard                         1   0   0   0   0   1   0
   B Radke (W,1-2)                    4   3   2   2   1   5   2
   M Guerrier                         2   3   1   1   0   1   0
   M Garza                            2   0   0   0   0   1   0
   J DePaula                          1   0   0   0   2   1   0

   WP--F German. SO--DET: M Rabelo 2, T Giarratano
   2, M Thames, D Sanchez, M Hessman, N Logan. MIN: S
   Stewart, G Jones, A Romero. BB--DET: B Inge, C
   Shelton, B Timm.  T--2:30. A--7,756.