Virtual TwinsFest featured a little bit of everything.
There was Pirates manager — and former Twins coach — Derek Shelton making a surprise appearance to chide manager Rocco Baldelli for being named the most handsome manager in baseball two years running. There was Saints co-owner Mike Veeck telling stories of failed promotions. There was Torii Hunter joking that he was a better high school quarterback than current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Joe Mauer, once a highly-touted Florida State football recruit.
There was even a Tim McGraw concert at the end.
In all, the Twins raised more than $100,000 for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund and had nearly 50,000 viewers tune in across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Here are three notable items from the daylong event:
Talks with Cruz progressing
The Twins haven’t been shy about their pursuit of Nelson Cruz, declaring publicly just days into the offseason that they’d like to re-sign the 40-year-old designated hitter.
But just weeks before players are scheduled to start reporting to Fort Myers, Fla., Cruz remains unsigned. After the National League used the designated hitter last year for the first time ever, whether or not that would be the case again in 2021 was a big question this offseason.
Though NL teams have been instructed to carry on as if they won’t have one, the uncertainty likely slowed down the process as Cruz waited to see what his market would look like. But Saturday, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey made it sound as if the two sides are making progress.
“We’ve continued to have dialogue and good dialogue around that, so I can say without revealing too much beyond that in terms of the internal conversation with Nellie and his agents, it remains active and productive on that front,” Falvey said.
Polanco shifts to second
It comes as no surprise, but Falvey confirmed the team’s plans to move shortstop Jorge Polanco over to second base and slot Luis Arraez into a more flexible role after signing Andrelton Simmons this week.
The Twins haven’t made the Simmons signing official yet, but they are expected to do so soon after agreeing to a one year, $10.5 million deal with the defensive whiz.
“We do envision Jorge Polanco playing more second base and being the everyday second baseman at this juncture. Will he play some at short? Sure. And will he need to fill (in)? Yes,” Falvey said. “But that’s our expectation and then Luis Arraez … the way we look at Luis is thinking back to how we used him some in 2019 really as a weapon, as somebody who can be installed in a few different places.”
Twins, Saints plan for fans
The Twins and Saints haven’t finalized plans yet to allow fans back into their stadiums, but both are working diligently with the Minnesota Department of Health and other officials to make it a reality.
The Twins are expecting to have some crowds, though much less than capacity, both at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers and at Target Field, while Saints executive vice president and general manager Derek Sharrer said during a segment that they are hoping they can increase on their attendance numbers from last season, when they were maxed out at 1,500 fans per game at CHS Field near the end of the season.
“We do believe we can socially distance at Target Field, again with a small subset of fans, perhaps at a percentage of capacity and do it in a way where people can come together and feel safe,” Twins President and CEO Dave St Peter said.