On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp in Fort Myers, Fla., the Minnesota Twins announced that a familiar face would be joining the Fox Sports North broadcast team.
In addition to the normal duo of Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven with supporting analysts Roy Smalley, Jack Morris, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins, the recently-retired Justin Morneau will join the fold when the team rotates color commentators in relief of Blyleven, who continues to work a reduced schedule.
Morneau will be on during the first intermission of Tuesday’s Wild telecast to discuss his new role with the company. The rest of Fox Sports North’s coverage remains unchanged, with Kevin Gorg, Marney Gellner and Audra Martin returning as sideline reporters and Tom Hanneman, Anthony LaPanta and Tim Laudner covering pre- and post-game hosting duties on Twins Live.
The first of 11 televised games this spring comes on Feb. 22 when the Twins open their slate of games against the University of Minnesota. First pitch is at 5:05 p.m.
The Twins announced the signing of outfielder Chris Heisey to a minor-league deal on Tuesday. The 33-year-old outfielder came up with the Cincinnati Reds, and has seen appreciable big-league time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals as well.
Most recently, Heisey hit just .162/.215/.270 in 38 games with the Nationals last season. Heisey’s two best seasons in the big leagues were his first two (2010-’11), when he hit .254/.316/.465 in 217 games (534 PA) with 26 home runs and 71 RBI while seeing time in left, center and right field.
Heisey has played mostly in left field in his big league career — one that has spanned nearly 700 games (697) and over 1,700 plate appearances.
On Monday, the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate Rochester Red Wings announced agreement on a 10-year lease with Monroe County to call Frontier Field home, with a 10-year mutual option as well.
“As with the previous lease, the County will receive a significant part of the revenue derived from baseball events at the stadium,” said Naomi Silver, the team’s president/CEO/COO. “But in this lease, we have certain assurances that the County will maintain and modernize the stadium as necessary, and will seek outside funding sources, when possible, to help accomplish this.
“We are very grateful to our fans and the entire community for their support. They, like us, could not imagine the alternative if an agreement had not been reached, and their voices were heard. In light of the community’s overwhelming response, we would like to dedicate this year’s Opening Day on Friday, April 6 as ‘Community Appreciation Day.’
“I’d like to thank General Manager, Dan Mason, Board Chair, Gary Larder, and the entire Red Wings organization for all their efforts over the course of the last year.”
In a subsequent release, the Red Wings announced they’re holding a “New Lease on Baseball Life” sale to apologize for “any worry or concern caused over the last few weeks” to Rochester fans on Thursday and Friday.
The team will be offering $1 hot dogs at Zweigle’s at the ballpark and $3 off all single-game tickets. The team will also offer 30 percent off all items in the team store — including online — on Thursday and Friday. The Red Wings are also offering a ticket pack that allows fans to get a premium box ticket to all 12 April games for just $40 per seat.
Finally, the team is doing a $140 Diamond Dollars promotion with the purchase of four new 2018 season seats on Thursday or Friday. The season opens on April 6 against the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays).
- Former Twins catcher Eric Fryer announced his retirement on Monday. Fryer played in 49 games for the Twins between 2014-15, hitting .236/.323/.355 in what was easily his most successful stint with any team in the major leagues. The 32-year-old Fryer was slated to go to camp with the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Former Twins left-handed reliever Craig Breslow signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Breslow had a 5.23 ERA in 30 appearances (31 innings) with the Twins before he was released on July 29. Breslow, 37, surfaced with the Cleveland Indians down the stretch, tossing 4.1 innings with a pair of earned runs (4.15 ERA). Across Breslow’s two stints with the Twins, he had a 3.75 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 84 innings.
- Former Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Plouffe hit jjust .198/.272/.318 with the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays last season, and is going to be 32 in June.
- Former Twins reliever Josh Roenicke signed with the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions of the Chinese Pro Baseball League, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
- Former Twins reliever Blaine Boyer signed a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals, the team announced on Twitter.
- Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that the Twins will attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday. It’ll take place at Driveline Sports near Seattle, and is closed to the media.
- Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Ervin Santana is slated to head to New York for a follow-up exam on his surgically-repaired right middle finger. The expectation is that Santana will miss up to a month of the regular season.
- Notable unsigned former Twins as of Tuesday include reliever Matt Belisle, reliever Fernando Abad, infielder Danny Valencia, shortstop J.J. Hardy, infielder Eduardo Nunez, outfielder Ben Revere, outfielder Carlos Gomez, outfielder Alex Presley, starter Matt Garza, swingman Francisco Liriano, starter Ricky Nolasco, starter Hector Santiago. Abad is reportedly close to signing with an unknown team, according to Robert Murray of FanRag Sports.