01/28/11 9:26 PM EST
Mauer 'on track' but not pushing recovery
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Target Field batter's eye to be improved
MINNEAPOLIS -- The batter's eye at Target Field will look slightly different when the Twins open up the 2011 season.Twins president Dave St. Peter said Friday that the team plans to remove the 14 black spruce trees that are currently behind the center-field wall. Hitters, for both the Twins and visiting teams, have complained that the trees were a distraction. The hitters have said the trees make it difficult to see the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand, particularly during windy days when the trees would move. The team also plans to copy something that the Mariners did at Safeco Field in Seattle and install a new "almost honeycomb-like" material on the backdrop, St. Peter said. That will help to reduce the glare for hitters off the batter's eye, which was a problem during late-afternoon games. "It's more of a safety issue for players," Twins general manager Bill Smith said of the changes being made. "That is one of those things that you really don't know until you get into a park and start playing. You can project what the glare will be but you don't know until you start playing. We certainly want to make it safe for the players." The changes that the Twins are planning to make were applauded by the club's hitters, including Joe Mauer. "First year in the stadium, it was pretty bad," Mauer said of the batter's eye. "It was one of the worst backdrops that we've seen, and it's nice to see them address it. "I think we're getting the same background as Seattle, which is pretty nice. People ask me, 'What's the one thing you miss about the Metrodome?' And that's it, every at-bat was the same, same sight-lines and all that. That's about the only thing I miss about the Metrodome." St. Peter said that the team is still working on determining what to do with the 14 trees that will be removed. He mentioned it's possible that they could be relocated to different parts of the stadium.
Delaney claimed off waivers by Rays
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Rob Delaney, who was designated for assignment this week when the Twins picked up left-hander Dusty Hughes, has been claimed off waivers by the Rays.Delaney made one appearance for Minnesota last season, giving up one run on two hits in one inning. He was 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA in 61 appearances with Triple-A Rochester in 2010.
Single-game tickets for the 2011 season will go on sale March 19. The Twins have already renewed 95 percent of their season-ticket base, and Twins president Dave St. Peter said the club expects to draw more than 3 million fans to Target Field again this season. ... The Twins have moved the first pitch of their July 24 game against the Tigers to 3:10 p.m. CT. This will allow fans to be in the ballpark to watch Bert Blyleven's induction speech on the scoreboard when he's officially ushered into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. ... The Twins are working on plans to have the University of Minnesota baseball team play their Big Ten schedule at Target Field. The Gophers were scheduled to play their games at the Metrodome prior to the roof's collapse in December.