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Spring Training Game Thread: Twins at Tigers in the Dominican Republic

The Twins go overseas for this one!

Philadelphia Phillies v Minnesota Twins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

First Pitch: 10:35a Central
Television: None
Radio: WCC0 830 AM, KMNB 102.9 FM “The Wolf”, Treasure Island Baseball Network,
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The Dominican Republic has not hosted a Major League Baseball game in 20 years. However, that ends today as the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers will meet for a Spring Training contest in Santo Domingo at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.

A number of baseball players hail from the D.R. In fact, behind the United States, the nation is the country with the second-most amount of players on major-league rosters and in minor-league clubs. Both the Twins and the Tigers will have Dominican-born players on hand that are likely to see some action today.

Minnesota players from the nation include Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Gilberto Celestino, Wander Javier, Jorge Alcalá, and Jhoan Durán. Jorge Polanco is also from the Dominican Republic, but did not make the trip today. Fernando Romero is from and has been in the D.R. since being rejected at customers in the United States last month, but is not expected to see any time in today’s game.

In the other clubhouse, Detroit has Dominican-born Ivan Nova, Sergio Alcantara, Jose Cisnero, Gregory Soto, Dawel Lugo, and Rony Garcia on their current 40-man roster. Jorge Bonifacio is also from the D.R and is a non-roster invite in the Tigers camp. Jeimer Candelario also has strong ties to the region as he grew up there as a child.

Both teams also have members of a family that have strong ties to the nation. Al Avila, the general manager of the Tigers, and his son Alex Avila, catcher for the Twins, have family roots in the Dominican Republic. Al’s father, Ralph, is credited for helping start the baseball movement in the country.

As you can see, it’s a homecoming for a lot of players from both teams, and hopefully it’ll be a fun, competitive game for the sold-out crowd in Santo Domingo.

Rocco Baldelli will give the nod to Devin Smeltzer to take the mound this morning. Smeltzer is continuing to battle for a spot in Minnesota’s rotation. He’s pitched in three games so far this spring, giving up four earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. His last outing was a two-inning stint against the St Louis Cardinals, where he allowed four runs (one earned) while striking out two.

Ron Gardenhire will rely on Dominican-born Iván Nova to start for the Tigers. Nova has also pitched in three Grapefruit League games, posting a 10.29 ERA in seven innings. He’s allowed two homers, striking out four batter while allowing one walk. For this contest, the Twins will be the visiting club while the Tigers are the home team.

Today's Lineups

Willians Astudillo - 3B Victor Reyes - CF
Eddie Rosario - LF Dawel Lugo - DH
Nelson Cruz - DH Harold Castro - 2B
Miguel Sano - 1B Jeimer Candelario - 3B
Alex Avila - C Jorge Bonifacio - RF
LaMonte Wade - RF Brandon Dixon - 1B
Gilberto Celestino - CF Eric Haase - C
Travis Blankenhorn - 2B Willi Castro - SS
Jack Reinheimer - SS Jose Azocar - LF