Twins clubhouse turns into dance party after games

Twins right fielder Torii Hunter (right), center fielder Shane Robinson (left) and left fielder Jordan Schafer (1) celebrate a recent win at Target Field. It's after games, however, where Minnesota's roster really cranks the dance party up a notch these days.

Brad Rempel/Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — The man responsible for the fog that filled the Twins’ clubhouse could barely be seen through it.

Torii Hunter stood at his locker at the end of the clubhouse Wednesday following Minnesota’s 6-4 win over Boston, a mere outline of a man amid the foggy haze that enveloped the rest of the room. After every Twins victory at Target Field this year — and there have been 17 of them so far as Minnesota boasts the best home record in the American League — the clubhouse turns into a dance club, complete with fog machines and lasers.

It was Hunter’s idea to purchase the two fog machines, which sit at either end of the locker room. The machines also have lights that help transform the postgame scene into a rave of sorts. It’s a players-only party (the fun and games end by the time the media is allowed in after the game) that has become a regular occurrence for this successful bunch.

"We lost one time . . . and those laser lights and the smoke wasn’t going. We were like, ‘We don’t like this,’" Hunter said. "It’s a little extra incentive so we can get the win and come in here and dance a little bit."

Oh yeah, there’s dancing, too. The hero of each victory — the player with a key hit, a starting pitcher who has a strong outing, etc. — has to get into the middle of the clubhouse and dance. More often than not, Hunter also joins in the dancing, regardless of how he did that day.

Wednesday’s dance victim was outfielder Aaron Hicks, whose two-run homer propelled the Twins to a series sweep that resulted in yet another foggy clubhouse. Hunter said Hicks’ dance move of choice was to take off his shirt and wave it around in the air.

"My dance moves are all right," Hicks said, laughing, when prompted about the subject. "(They’re) what I learned in high school."

One day before Hicks was the center of attention in the fog-and-laser-filled clubhouse, it was Mike Pelfrey’s turn. The 6-foot-7 right-hander earned his fourth win and lowered his ERA to 2.77 by allowing just one run in seven innings against Boston.

It was pretty obvious that Pelfrey would have to show off his dance moves — or lack thereof.

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"I think they’ve probably cheered for everything. I can’t imagine a 6-foot-7 white guy being that good, but I danced," Pelfrey said. "I just try to follow what Torii does. He’s got a little better rhythm than me. . . . Hopefully nobody got video of it."

After right-hander Ricky Nolasco earned his 100th career win earlier this month, he was yet another no-brainer candidate for a postgame dance. Nolasco has been solid on the mound for Minnesota since coming off the disabled list, but the same can’t necessarily be said about his skills on the dance floor.

"I’m terrible," Nolasco said of his moves.

"He didn’t want to dance, but I forced him," added Hunter.

Though the Twins’ dance parties may seem silly on the surface, they’re an indication that Minnesota is having fun. And with a 28-18 record, why shouldn’t the Twins enjoy their success a bit?

It also speaks to the camaraderie among the clubhouse, something that was lacking — at least to this extent — during the Twins’ last four 90-loss seasons. As has been the case so far this year, any player on any given day might be the one who does something good enough to earn himself an opportunity to dance. There are light-hearted jabs about the dance abilities of the teammates, but the underlying theme is one of team bonding.

"It’s been a little something that brings everybody together. It’s a lot of fun," said Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, who admits his dance moves are "probably not very good."

As for the team’s best dancer, Hunter insists backup outfielder Shane Robinson can bust a move. Hunter, of course, is the team’s most frequent contributor, but many others have shared the spotlight along the way as the Twins have danced their way to a tie for first place in the American League Central.

It remains to be seen if the fog machines, lasers and postgame dances will continue throughout the season. If Minnesota keeps winning, though, the Twins might have a hard time getting rid of their new tradition.

"You’ve got to have a motivation, and our motivation is to get those laser lights going," Hunter said. "I think we’re addicted to them."

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