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News and notes from Twins Fest

by Mike McFeely


Doing my show from Twins Fest at Target Field this afternoon. Twins president Dave St. Peter and general manager Terry Ryan made some remarks at a media luncheon prior to the event. Here are some of the things they said:


--Former Twins pitcher Jack Morris will return to the organization as an analyst on Fox Sports North and the Twins radio network. He'll do 25 games on TV and have expansive radio duties. Morris spent last season as a commentator for the Toronto Blue Jays.

--The 17,000 Twins season ticket holders will have first crack at tickets to the 2014 All-Star Game held at Target Field and corporate partners will get a large amount as well, but the remaining tickets will be available to the general public through a lottery. About 42,000 fans have already registered for the lottery. Registration closes in mid-March. The Twins expect the All-Star Game will have an $80 million direct economic impact on Minneapolis and Minnesota. The team expects 100,000 fans to attend the MLB Fan Experience event at the Minneapolis Convention Center during the week of the game.

--Chuck Knoblauch will be the 27th member inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in August. Knoblauch is a former second baseman who was the 1991 American League Rookie of the Year and a key player in the Twins' 1991 World Series title.

--The team has so far sold 75,000 tickets to its 16 home spring-training games at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., this year. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 16. The rest of the team reports Feb. 21. The Twins' first home spring game is March 1.

--Hammond Stadium, the Twins' spring home since 1991, is undergoing a multiple-phase, $48.5 million renovation that will result in more seating, a new parking lot and major major- and minor-league facilities renovation. 

--The Twins had an 89-percent renewal rate on season tickets for 2014. The team sold about 19,000 full season-ticket equivalencies in 2013 and will sell about 17,000 equivalences in 2014. That will put the Twins in the upper half of MLB's season-ticket sales.

--St. Peter said the team expects it can draw 2.5 million fans this season.

--The Twins will host the New York Yankees July 3-6. The game July 4 will be the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's "luckiest man" speech and Twins, Yankees and MLB will work together to mark the day and have a major ALS ("Lou Gehrig's Disease") awareness campaign.

--Every Friday night home game from May to August will feature fireworks.

--There will be a Ron Gardenhire Gnome Night giveaway.

--Bobbleheads return in 2014. The Twins will have three bobblehead giveaways featuring former Twins All-Star players.


--Outfielder Chris Parmalee recently had surgery to remove a cyst from his wrist. He is not expected to miss any time.

--Ryan confirmed popular pitcher Andrew Albers, who made some impressive starts in the midst of last year's 96-loss season, will go to a Korean team. 

--Instant replay will begin to be phased in during the 2014 season. It will be a three-year process. 90 percent of the plays will be reviewable. Managers will be able to challenge calls from innings 1-6, then it goes to the umpires from innings 7-9. The plays in question will be seen on the video boards at stadiums, so fans can see what is in dispute. That will also open up more instant replays throughout the game for fans. In the past, umpires objected to questionable calls being shown in stadium video boards.

--Rules surrounding home-plate collisions will be a topic of discussion during 2014.

--The importance of moving Joe Mauer to first base will be that it allows the Twins to have his bat in the lineup for 150-plus games.

--The Twins signed veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to take Mauer's place behind the plate. Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer will battle for the backup spot in Fort Myers. 

"Pinto has the best bat," Ryan said.

--Ryan believes Jason Kubel, a former longtime Twin signed as a free agent, can contribute to the team after having a down year last season.

--Ryan said shortstop Jason Bartlett, another former Twin, will have to "knock off some rust" after signing a non-roster contract in November. Bartlett has not played since August 2012.

--"We need innings, we need starts, we need deeper starts," Ryan said about signing free-agent pitchers Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco and re-signing Mike Pelfrey.

--"We need to get better starting pitching or we don't stand a chance. Everybody knows that," Ryan said.

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