After not making the trip to Sioux Falls last year, the annual Twins Caravan is back.
“I don’t know if I’ve been in Sioux Falls here on caravan. I remember playing against the Canaries here when I was playing in St. Paul,” said World Series Champion and Hall of Famer Jack Morris.
The 40 stop, 10 day event brings several former and current Twins members throughout the Upper Midwest, including three stops in South Dakota in Yankton, Sioux Falls, and Watertown.
“We’re out here, South Dakota, North Dakota, Twins territory is real and it’s big,” said pitcher Stephen Gonsalves.
“Getting out and experiencing the fan base a little bit wider, you know Minneapolis teams aren’t called Minneapolis teams they’re called Minnesota. I think that widens their broad reach a little bit, and being able to interact with the fans on personal level is really, really fun,” said pitcher Trevor Hildenberger.
Monday’s visit to to the Elmen Center at Augustana University included the pitching trio in Stephen Gonsalves, Trevor Hildenberger and Hall of Famer Jack Morris as well as Cory Provus. This was also the first time that Gonsalves and Hildenberger have visited South Dakota.
“It’s one of those deals where they’re fans at heart, they don’t get to go out up to a lot of games. So it’s always nice for us to come down here. I think a lot of people expect the entire team to walk off the bus and that never happens. But you know we do our best to entertain them and get them excited about baseball.” said Morris.
The Twins are generating buzz this off season about the future of the program with Rocco Baldelli taking over the role as manager, as well as who the new leader in the dugout will be with the recent retirement of Joe Mauer.
“Rocco, I’ve talked to him a couple times. He's a younger guy, I think Nelson Cruz is a little older than him,” said Gonsalves.
“I think he’s a leader, I think that with Joe Mauer retiring and we traded a few of our veteran guys who had been around and had been Twins for a long time, I think he’s someone that hitters and pitchers can turn to,” said Hildenberger.
The team says despite their lack of veterans, they hope to be a contender this upcoming season in the AL Central.
”We’re thinking we’re going to be a sleeper on a lot of teams and kind of sneak in there.” said Gonsalves.
“We took a huge step forward in 2017, we had expectations entering 2018, we didn’t quite live up to them. The coaching changes, they’re only going to help us,” said Hildenberger.
Gonsalves added that he is already reporting to pitchers training in two weeks, as spring training begins for the Twins next month.