One day before official team workouts begin, the Minnesota Twins welcomed first baseman Justin Morneau, who arrived to camp Thursday. Things will start to get interesting Friday when position players join the pitchers and catchers in full-team workouts. In all, Minnesota will have 67 players in Fort Myers, Fla., this year for spring training.
FOXSportsNorth.com will track reports from the news outlets already in Florida until March 4, when Tyler Mason will begin covering the team in Fort Myers. Here’s a look at some of Thursday’s storylines from camp:
Nishioka could see time at third base: Tsuyoshi Nishioka split time last season between shortstop and second base, but after struggling offensively and defensively last year as a starter, Nishioka could be relegated to a back-up role in 2012.
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With the possibility of being a utility infielder in his future, Nishioka could see time at third base during spring training, Twins general manager Terry Ryan told reporters Thursday.
“He’s a shortstop who can play second, and we’ll probably give him some exposure at third,” Ryan said, according to MLB.com. “I did see him for the first time visually today, and he’s noticeably stronger in the bottom half. I think that’s apparent. But the transition has to be smoother. He’s been here, he’s been around us and has been around the league and the staff.”
Gardenhire, Ryan will meet with team Friday: Ryan told reporters Thursday that he and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will address the team on Friday, the first day of official team workouts. The purpose, Ryan said, is to clear the air after Minnesota’s injury-plagued 99-loss season in 2011.
“I guess my biggest theme or message would be the importance of health,” Ryan said to reporters. “You can talk all you want down here about going through fundamentals and games and trying to make the club, but the one thing you want to make sure is that you have a chance — stay on the diamond so we can evaluate you.”
Twins bring in another catcher: With such a high number of pitchers in spring training this year, the Twins added another catcher, Danny Rams, to help catch Minnesota’s pitchers.
Rams, 23, was the Twins’ second-round pick in the 2007 draft. He spent most of the 2011 season at Class A Fort Myers but did play four games with Double-A New Britain.
Twins will honor 2002 team during home opener: After winning the World Series in 1991, the Twins went a decade without winning the American League Central. Minnesota went through a drought of eight losing seasons in 10 years. But the 2002 team put an end to that, winning the AL Central with a 94-67 record.
Now, that ’02 team will be honored during the Twins’ 2012 home opener on April 9, the Pioneer Press reports. The Twins host the Los Angeles Angels to open their home season at Target Field. On that Angels team is outfielder Torii Hunter, a key piece to Minnesota’s division-winning team in 2002.