FORT MYERS, FLA. — There was no music at Hammond Stadium as the early-arriving Twins warmed up Monday, three days before the official start of spring training, a lingering but visible effect of Hurricane Ian.
In fact, in a metropolitan area still reeling from the devastation of that record-breaking late September blizzard, the Twins are rushing to prepare their spring headquarters for a camp full of fans.
So while the equipment was being unpacked and the training hall set up, workers were also on site clearing debris, drywalling team offices and resetting public address controls and signage.
“We are really lucky here, compared to what we see below [Fort Myers Beach]where so much has been destroyed”, he said Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball operations. “In terms of the damage to the park, the fields and the facilities, a lot of it was what we would consider cosmetic. The batting eye fell off and had to be replaced, a number of poles were pushed over. Palm trees were lying on the ground. There’s a lot of water damage in offices Kirby [Puckett] The sign was blown away by the wind.”
The twins waited to begin repairs, however, knowing that Lie County, which owns the facility, had many other priorities to attend to after the storm. The team allowed first responders to use their little league dorm as a base and fed rescue and construction workers in their kitchens.
“We waited for the main areas to stabilize and as spring approached, we started to tackle some of the repair work until the players started arriving,” Falvey said. “There is still a bit of work to do, as you can see, but everything should be fine for our fans and players.”
More players have arrived early in camp than ever before in Falvey’s seven-year tenure with the Twins, he said. Formal workouts don’t start until Thursday for pitchers and catchers, and next Monday for position players, but roughly two-thirds of the entire roster is already in Florida.
Among the earliest arrivals: Max Keplerwhose 2022 season was an offensive disappointment even before a wrist injury ended it nearly four weeks early.
“He said he worked hard all winter,” Falvey said. “He seems determined.”
So do many of his teammates. pitcher Sonny Gray played catch in the field while the second baseman Jorge Polanco got ground balls, among other notables. The crowd of players has encouraged the manager Rocco Baldelli to organize optional daily training a few days earlier.
Among the main points of the last days, according to witnesses: John Duran throwing direct hitting practice to the outfielder Trevor Larnachwho rocketed a pitch out of the hitter’s eye to center field.
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