3/1/2014 4:45 P.M. ET
Twins showcase renovations to spring home
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins officially unveiled Phase 1 of their renovations to Hammond Stadium in their home opener against the Red Sox on Saturday, as fans were able to access the new outfield boardwalk for the first time.
The Twins are currently in the midst of a $48 million renovation to their Spring Training home at the Lee County Sports Complex, with Phase 2 set to begin this summer and scheduled for completion by Spring Training next year.
The most noticeable change this year is the addition of a concrete boardwalk in the outfield that features berm seating in left field, concessions in center field and bars in both left and right field. It now allows fans to walk completely around the stadium.
"I think today is a great day," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "Lee County has been a great home for Twins baseball since 1991, but I think today represents the future. I think this renovation project for both the fans and for player development is going to be significant, in terms of our franchise continuing to be successful."
St. Peter added that the Twins are set to meet on Sunday after getting feedback from the fans about the improvements to the stadium. With new seats added in right field, as well as a drink rail in right field, and berm seating in left field, the current seating capacity will expand from 8,000 to 9,300 this spring.
Phase 2 will give the ballpark another major facelift, as the Twins will widen the concourses while adding new concessions, upgraded restroom facilities and a new retail store for fans. The suites, offices and press box at Hammond Stadium will also be updated.
The Twins are making major upgrades to their Major and Minor League clubhouses, as well as the addition of a player-development academy that includes 55 sleeping rooms for players and staff. The player-development academy is expected to be completed by May 1, and will also include a 200-seat auditorium, a hydrotherapy room and the dormitories for players. The Twins are paying for the $6 million project.
Mauer happy with first day at first base
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer made his Grapefruit League debut against the Red Sox on Saturday, and the newly converted first baseman was happy with the way it went.
Mauer, who is making the transition from catcher to first base after suffering a season-ending concussion last August, played at first base at Hammond Stadium for the first time in his career. He saw action early -- with a ground ball hit to him by A.J. Pierzynski in the first inning, as he made the play unassisted.
"It felt a little different," Mauer said. "I've never actually played first base here at Spring Training, so I was a little worried about seeing the ball off the bat. It's a little bright out there, so it was nice I was able to get a ball in the first inning and make a play."
Mauer also added an RBI single to right field in his first at-bat of the spring against Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster in the first inning to score Brian Dozier. Mauer went 1-for-2 at the plate, before coming out of the game prior to the fifth inning.
"That was nice," Mauer said. "I felt pretty good at the plate. [My] timing was pretty good today, and usually this time of year, it's not so good. So it was nice to come up with a runner on and get him in."
Other than walk, Diamond satisfied with first game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Left-hander Scott Diamond came away mostly satisfied with his first outing of Spring Training against the Red Sox on Saturday. But he was frustrated by a four-pitch walk in the second inning.
Diamond went two innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk, while recording two strikeouts. The run came on a solo shot by Daniel Nava on a 3-2 fastball with two outs in the first inning. But Diamond was more worried about a walk in the second inning to Mike Carp, who ended up being stranded at third base.
"The walk is what I'm a little upset about," Diamond said. "The Nava home run, those are going to happen. It's just upsetting it happened the first outing. But the walk is what I was most upset about. It's never what you want to do. But I was able to attack the rest of the inning and get out of it, scot-free."
Diamond, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation along with Vance Worley, Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson, added that he's happy to be healthy this spring, after missing all of Grapefruit League play last year because he was coming off elbow surgery.
"I think the big thing is that I have time to adjust and see hitters," Diamond said. "Last year in Spring Training, being hurt, I was seeing [Gulf Coast League] and Rookie-ball guys. So to be able to come out in spring in this type of atmosphere and get the heart pumping a little bit definitely is going to help me get better adjusted for the season."