Tigers, Twins off to frosty start at Target Field

The sun was shining brightly above the ballpark, as the Detroit

Tigers and Minnesota Twins took their places along the green grass

for pregame introductions.

This was a picture-perfect opening day, except of course for

that pesky 35-degree, first-pitch temperature and 17 mph wind.

”It’s a little bit cold, but we’re willing to risk it,” said

fan John Felipe, who wore three layers of clothing to Target Field.

”We’re Minnesotans. We’re used to the cold.”

The hot chocolate line was more than 12 deep on Monday afternoon

shortly before the 2013 season began. Beer vendors weren’t quite as

busy. But, hey, it’s baseball. Sitting outside in stocking hats,

gloves and winter coats sure beat staying at work for the announced

crowd of 38,282, officially a sellout by Twins guidelines.

”I was hemming and hawing and then I went out on StubHub on

Friday and went for the single ticket,” said another fan, Nick

Kochevar. ”You couldn’t get my wife out here in this, so I figure

I had to come by myself.”

This was the first time in four years at the downtown ballpark,

which replaced the Metrodome as their home stadium, that the Twins

played their opener in Minnesota. The previous temperatures for

their first home games were 45, 63 and 65 degrees.

For the players, this was a tough transition from nearly two

months of spring training in balmy Florida. But while everybody was

bundling up for the afternoon, none of them seemed to mind


Twins catcher Joe Mauer grew up here, after all. He recalled

high school games being snowed out. He also played in Class A in

2002 for Quad Cities, when he remembered catching all 17 innings

during a chilly opening night contest along the Mississippi River

in Davenport, Iowa.

”There’s nothing we can change about it,” Mauer said. ”We

just have to go out there and play the game.”

First baseman Justin Morneau predicted the team that whines the

least about the weather would have the best chance to win. He joked

that he’d ”put hot sauce all over and throw some long sleeves on

and some long johns” to fend off the frost.

New Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, whose nine seasons with

the Twins were in the climate-controlled dome, recalled the coldest

game he ever experienced. That was his rookie year at Detroit’s

Tiger Stadium in 1999. The temperature that day was 44 degrees,

with a 13 mph wind.

”You put Vaseline on your legs and your arms. That’s the secret

nobody really knows about,” Hunter said. ”Put lots of Vaseline on

to close your pores up and then you put your sleeves on and put on

two pair of underwear.”

There’s no game scheduled for Tuesday, so everyone can thaw a

bit before returning on Wednesday, when the forecast has the

temperature at closer to 50 degrees.

”Personally, I’m going to go buy a sweater tomorrow,” Tigers

manager Jim Leyland said. ”I packed one, but I’ve worn it a couple

times already.”

Associated Press freelance writer Mike Cook contributed to this


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