I always love when the Twins Caravan stops in Rochester every January because it means that the next season is drawing near. This year, the Twins Winter Caravan visited Rochester on Tuesday, January 14 at the Ramada Inn. Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, Cory Provus, and Terry Ryan were all in attendance.
The event was supposed to start off with a 2013 Twins highlight video, but for the second year in a row there were technical difficulties. The video malfunction was ironic considering the Twins 66-96 record from the 2013 season.
After the video was postponed due to the “rain delay”, Corey Provus kicked things off with some Q&A. Each answered Provus’s questions, and any other questions that the audience had for them.
After some raffle prizes were given away, people could get in line for autographs. I only took a few pictures, and I’ll admit that they are not great:
Before this, I had never gotten an autograph on any of the baseballs that I’ve ballhawked because I like to keep them in the condition that I got them in. Usually I get a baseball card or a ticket signed, but this time I decided to get two baseballs signed. I figured that since it’s not every day that I have the chance to get Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva’s autograph (especially for free), I wanted to get their signatures on something more meaningful than a baseball card. After looking at all my baseballs, I picked the two that were in the best shape. If I were grading them on their quality, then I would give each a 9.5/10.
Paul Molitor signed my 97th baseball, which was thrown by an unknown Athletics player. Tony Oliva signed my 98th, which was a bp homer that was hit by an unknown Athletics player. I got both baseballs at the A’s vs. Twins game I attended last September. Kyle Gibson signed the ticket that I brought, and Caleb Thielbar signed an enlarged photo that was being supplied.
When I was in line I told Kyle Gibson that I had been there to see his first Major League WIN on June 29 and how I had saved my ticket incase I would ever get the chance for him to sign it. A very big smile came across his face and he got very excited that I remembered his special day. It was a pretty cool 1 on 1 moment. Here’s a close up of the signed ticket.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Paul Molitor is my all-time favorite baseball player. Within the last year I (unintentionally) started a collection of Paul Molitor autographed memorabilia. I wrote “unintentionally” because I only sought out Paul Molitor’s autograph the first time. The second and third autographs came as a surprise. For example, I won a Paul Molitor signed baseball at a Twins game last September. That was a very big surprise!
What about the third autograph? Yeah, I bought a ticket to the Twins Caravan this year, but that was before I knew Paul Molitor would be in attendance. I wasn’t expecting him to be there until I checked the details for the event. Once again, I was surprised! It’s kind of funny how that worked out in such a good way!
Overall, Twins Winter Caravan was a fun event to attend. Everyone heard from Terry Ryan about what’s going on inside the Twins Organization this offseason, and what they’re doing in order to get back on track this coming season. Over the offseason they have signed free agents Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kurt Suzuki, and Jason Kubel, along with numerous Minor League players. The Twins also traded Ryan Doumit to Atlanta for LHP Sean Gilmartin, and finalized a deal with the Pirates that sent Duke Welker to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kris Johnson. One of the most popular “Transactions” this offseason has been the addition of Paul Molitor to the Twin’s coaching staff.
Saything that Terry Ryan hopes the Twins can turn things around in 2014 would be an understatement. Mr. Ryan wants nothing more than to leave the team’s troubles in the past. “Our biggest struggle the last three years has been that rotation and keeping overtaxing that bullpen,” Ryan said. “If we can fix the starting rotation, I think it will help fix some of the other problems we have, in particular our offense. We’ve struggled scoring runs as well.”
Terry Ryan also can not wait to get to spring training. He said, “I’m ready to go, Lets get down there and do something about it.” There were even a few different times he mentioned that pitchers and catchers report on February 16th.
I think I’m speaking for most of the people who attended the caravan when I say that for that brief 1.5 hours I forgot about the cold and snowy Minnesota winter weather, and I imagined myself in Fort Meyers for Spring Training, and at Target Field this summer. Let’s go Twins!