Twins players caught off guard with hoopla
Mauer interviewed in car while arriving early to Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins expected a lot of hoopla surrounding the first Opening Day at Target Field, but some of the players admit they were caught by surprise with just how much attention was focused on the first game at their new field Monday.Catcher Joe Mauer said he pulled into the parking lot at Target Field around 9 a.m. CT and was immediately greeted by a camera to be interviewed as he walked into the ballpark. The interview was part of Fox Sports North's live broadcast throughout the morning. "It's expected, people are excited," Mauer said. "I just wasn't expecting it at 9 a.m., but you roll with it. "It's a big day for all Minnesotans and for this organization. A lot of people are excited and we are too as players." Mauer wasn't the only one to notice the increased media attention and fans arriving early into the ballpark to take part in all of the events. There was also the additional enthusiasm of the crowd, which cheered every home run hit during batting practice. "Delmon [Young] and I were just talking about it. It feels like were at the All-Star Game," said Michael Cuddyer. "It's a fun atmosphere."
Hot start part of excitement in Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- As if there wasn't enough excitement in Minnesota about the opening of Target Field, fans will be welcoming home the Twins after a 5-2 start to the season. The club took three of four games from the Angels and two of three from the White Sox before playing its first home game at the new ballpark."I don't think you can add any more excitement to Opening Day than we already have," Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. "To get off to a good start on the road is always a plus against two very good baseball teams." As the Twins host the Red Sox for three games this week, Minnesota hopes to be able to build on the hot start to the 2010 campaign. "If you watch the way we've started, we've been in every ballgame that we've played in," designated hitter Jim Thome said. "I think it's going to hopefully jumpstart our club into doing something special." "We played well on the road," right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "Hopefully we can continue that here."
Turf a thing of the past for Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Up until this season, road trips for the Twins meant getting away from artificial turf and getting the chance to play on natural grass. Now that the club can finally call Target Field home, trips back to Minnesota mean coming back to a grass surface as well."This is spectacular. Everything that we've seen on the road and at other ballparks that over teams have, we have now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll be excited to be coming home," first baseman Justin Morneau said. From a health standpoint, the Twins hope playing all 81 home games on real grass will help preserve them throughout the season. "I used to hear Torii [Hunter] and a lot of people when I was younger talk about the turf," center fielder Denard Span said. "I was like, 'It can't be that bad.' Last year, by the end of the season, I just felt like my body took a pounding. ... We all knew that the turf did affect our bodies." Having real grass means something else the Twins haven't experienced at home in quite some time: grass stains. "We actually have soap to wash our pants rather than get turf stains off," Gardenhire said.
Target Field trees may affect sight lines
MINNEAPOLIS -- The two exhibition games at Target Field against the Cardinals earlier this month gave the players a chance to hit in their new ballpark.One of the only early complaints from a couple players was how the spruce trees behind the center-field wall might affect the sight lines while players are at the plate. While Michael Cuddyer was one player who said the trees affected his vision a little, others, like Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel, didn't seem to be affected by it. "I don't have any problems," Kubel said after he came off the field from taking batting practice on Monday. "I've only played one game so far. We'll see how it goes. If it's windy and blowing around, we'll see." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that there have been some shadows off the trees, particularly during the 5 p.m. CT start for the first exhibition contest. Gardenhire said that some players had a little issue with depth perception off the trees, but he stressed that was just the early talk. "We'll see what happens," Gardenhire said before joking: "We've got chainsaws, plenty of chainsaws. If we don't like it, we just whack them. We'll come here late night and whack them. People will say, 'Who did that?'"
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.