Monday, February 19, 2007

Camp opens

FORT TRAFFICJAMBURG, Fla. -- Camp has started. Team got on the field around 9:15 a.m. EST after manager Gardy gave his annual, brief pep talk in the clubhouse. Sun is shining. Clear blue skies. Really chilly. Cool to hear the "click-clack" of spikes hitting the pavement as the players strolled to the field.

  • Ramon Ortiz is the only pitcher not here yet. He's having visa problems in the Dominican Republic. Not sure when he'll be here. It's not uncommon for this to happen, especially when a team signs a guy late. The Twins didn't sign Ortiz until late January. I believe he had a similar issue a few years back with Cincinnati.

  • Radio voice told me it was 39 degrees on my drive to the Lee County Sports Complex at around 8 a.m. EST. Shortstop Jason Bartlett, who lives here in the offseason, said it's the coldest day all year. Veteran scribe from "Across the River" says it's the coldest day he's experienced in 10 years of spring training here. I know you guys up north feel sooooo sorry for us.

  • There were about 60 fans waiting to watch pitchers and catchers walk onto the field. Spotted a Daunte Culpepper Vikings jersey in the crowd. Vintage. Some crazy fans are wearing shorts, sandals and short sleeves. But that's not as nuts as the one guy I saw swimming in the Gulf on Saturday. Canadian, no doubt.

  • Pitching coach Rick Anderson and new pet project Sidney Ponson were among the last guys to walk out of the clubhouse. Andy was doing the talking; Sidney was listening. Let the tutoring begin.

  • Johan Santana jogged onto the field, flashing his million-dollar, er, discounted $40 million smile as he breezed by the fans.

  • Talked to Carlos Silva again this morning. Boy, is he glad not to be heading to the World Baseball Classic this spring.

  • Santana, Silva and Ponson stretched together. Could that be 1,2,3 in the rotation this year? Well, we know one of them is a lock.

  • Nice to see Matty LeCroy back with the club. He's his usual jovial self. He's a little thinner and less gray. He's dyed his hair and goatee black. He doesn't have a snowball's chance in a 550-degree oven of making the club, but I could see him sticking around the organization as a coach if he decides this is it for playing. LeCroy's good buddy Michael Cuddyer tells me LeCroy's goal is to become a big-league manager.

  • Position players don't have to report until Friday, but per the "Twins Way," most of the key guys are already in camp. Torii, Rondell and Castillo haven't arrived yet. I'll reiterate a point I made to my fellow scribes yesterday, I'm impressed that Justin Morneau is here. Shows that MVP thing hasn't gone to his head. He was out in the batting cages working one-on-one with hitting coach Joe Vavra this morning.

  • The Twins have unveiled this year's media guide. Cover looks cool, with action photos of Morneau, Mauer, Santana and Torii. Kind of a retro look and the photos aren't conventional. Hard to explain, but trust me, it looks cool. Props to media relations staffers Mike Herman, Dustin Morse and Molly Gallatin. You probably don't know these folks, but they do a great job in making the Twins a very fan-friendly organization. By the way, media guides will be available to the public at pro shops and the Dome this season.

  • Always good to see player-favorite and long-time clubhouse "security guard" Dominic Jamella. Great man. Antagonistic, in a fun way. Thick New England dialect. Loves people. I could only hope to be that passionate about life when I'm in my 80s. (He's 86.) Of course, with my high-strung personality and poor dieting habits, I could only hope to be alive at that age.

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