I was fortunate to attend a Twins Winter Caravan event Monday night in Fargo! Living in Fargo, I’m not able to get to as many Twins games and events as I’d like to, but the Winter Caravan is a wonderful chance for fans from the boonies to interact with players and get excited for the upcoming season. Below, you’ll find some notes I took at the event.
The event in Fargo was particularly robust, featuring two current Twins (Luis Arraez and Lewis Thorpe), one future Twin (top prospect Trevor Larnach), one Twins legend (Jack Morris), Dick Bremer, and team president Dave St. Peter. Aside from St. Peter, all of these team personalities hit the road together. They hit Thief River Falls before Fargo, and will be hitting Brainerd and Duluth afterwards. St. Peter was a special case, as he traditionally makes the trip to Fargo for that particular stop of the Winter Caravan, being a North Dakota native himself.
Dick Bremer served as the event emcee, doing short interviews with each of the other guests before opening the floor up for some questions.
Dave St. Peter had a few interesting things to say:
- Dave stated that Josh Donaldson had been “at the top of the list” for Twins free agency targets since the very beginning of the off-season. This kind of bucks the narrative that the Twins only targeted him after whiffing on starting pitchers, although I’m sure Zack Wheeler was also “at the top of the list”.
- St. Peter also talked about how the team was continually interested in upgrading Target Field. He mentioned specifically that the team is putting a new Wi-Fi system in place this off season, and is working on adding heat and other features to put up with winter weather (for the Twins and the NHL Winter Classic next winter).
Trevor Larnach, being the least experienced player on the Caravan, predictably had the least interesting things to say. However, he did provide one golden crack:
- When asked about the adjustments he had to make between High-A and Double-A, Larnach stated that obviously the pitching gets tougher at each level, “except for Arraez over there”.
Lewis Thorpe and his Australian accent had plenty to talk about with Bremer:
- Thorpe first touched on the wildfires that have been ravaging his home country. He was very eloquent on the subject and clearly it was something that he cared about deeply.
- Thorpe played Australian rules football as a child before ultimately focusing on baseball, and (according to him) can punt an American football 70 yards(!!!). Maybe he should play for the Vikings in the off-season.
- Dick poked some fun at Thorpe and Arraez, a couple of warm-weather natives who “didn’t pack any socks” for the trip to Fargo. Bremer proceeded to take two pairs of wool boot socks out of a Scheels bag and present them to the two young players.
Jack Morris spent most of his time with the microphone reminiscing about his playing days, and especially the 1991 series (and rightfully so). However, he did field one question about pitch counts these days, which he has been notoriously grumpy about in the past:
- Surprisingly, Jack seems to have softened on the topic, stating that the game has simply evolved, and pitchers are no better or worse today than they were in his day.
The star of the night was, without a doubt, Luis Arraez. Interestingly, Arraez had a translator along, but did not use him. His English (to me) has noticeably improved since the season ended. Yet, with a smile on his cherubic face, his accented answers positively cracked up the audience:
- Arraez clearly loves the game, and talked about how much he loves to hit. “I hate strikeouts” and “I start crying” [in connection with striking out] brought big laughs from the crowd.
- Another big laugh came from this gem, after being asked if he actually looks around to see where the fielders are when he steps in the box: “If they shift me, I say ‘thank you’”
- Arraez also spoke of his fear of the Rally Squirrel, and how he was scared Max Kepler would die when the Squirrel was running between his legs
- Bremer led Arraez to state his astonishing broken bat numbers from last year. Across the minors and majors, Arraez only broke three bats over the whole season, and he got hits in two of these instances.
- On another serious note, Arraez stated that his previously-injured ankle was completely fine.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable night for all involved. There was even a free meal beforehand (with The Sandlot playing on the screen, to boot) and free autographs afterwards to sweeten up the night for those who missed out on the few raffle prizes. I would definitely encourage any Twins fan to make their way to a Winter Caravan event one of these years.