Few things offer a respite from the cold and snow than the thought of baseball. And for those who needed a break from the weather, the 55th annual Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan provided just that Wednesday morning at Perkins restaurant in Grand Forks.
Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson and reliever Caleb Thielbar were joined by radio announcer and former Twins outfielder Dan Gladden and TC Bear. They entertained about 50 fans for about 30 minutes, fielding questions about the prospects for the 2015 season while providing some comic relief.
Gladden, who won World Series rings in 1987 and 1991 as a member of the Twins, acted as emcee. He said the Twins are optimistic about the upcoming season and said the addition of veteran outfielder Torii Hunter, a former fan favorite, will bring a lot of energy and that Hunter will be a big presence in the clubhouse, which has been lacking in recent years with the departure of Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau.
Gladden also said that Hunter will be a sponge for the younger players and will play a large role with their development. “He should help out with (Aaron) Hicks,” Gladden added. Hicks is a former top minor league prospect who has struggled the past two years in the majors.
Gibson spoke a little bit about competition on the Twins’ pitching staff.
“We have a lot of depth,” said Gibson, who won 13 games as a starter in 2013. “The competition will be good for the team.”
Other starters returning include 16-game winner Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco (6-12) and newcomer Ervin Santana, who won 14 games for the Atlanta Braves last season. Waiting in the wings are prospects Trevor May (3-6), Alex Meyers (7-7 at Triple A Rochester) and Jose Berios (12-8 in A, AA and AAA).