The Twins winter caravan, sponsored by Dodge and Charter Communications, came to Baxter Tuesday night at the Lodge.
Several dozen fans made the trek to see Twins pitching legend Jack Morris, pitching coach Rick Anderson, reliever Pat Neshek and pitching prospect Glen Perkins.
Twins radio broadcaster John Gordon emceed the event that included a highlight film of the 2006 season, stories from the players, a question and answer session with the crowd, a prize giveaway and an autograph session.
All four were optimistic about the upcoming Twins season as the Twins have the 2006 Cy Young winner Johan Santana, the American League MVP in Justin Morneau and the AL batting champion in Joe Mauer.
Jack Westafer of Baxter received an autograph from Twins pitching prospect Glen Perkins. Brainerd Dispatch/Trevor Williams» Purchase reprints of this photo.
During the question and answer session someone in the audience asked Anderson if the Twins would pursue a veteran starter in free agency. Before Anderson could respond, Morris quipped, "I'm very expensive!" which brought laughter from throughout the room.
In their comments to the crowd, Morris attributed his competitive spirit to his father. He is still amazed how everything in his baseball career had to turn out just right for him to succeed. Morris, as an avid outdoorsman and snowmobiler, urged the audience to respect nature and be courteous outdoorsmen.
Anderson went into depth about the pitching staff, including how he will miss Brad Radke, having been with him as a coach in the minors and majors. Anderson said Francisco Liriano would not pitch in 2007 and that his arm problems were a result of an "old injury." Spring training will determine the rotation but the bullpen is all but set.
Anderson is proud of the bullpen and believes they can be a force this season as long as they are not overworked. He said that Joe Nathan is underappreciated around the league and is one of the better closers in the game.
Neshek told the crowd how he injured his shoulder in high school and moved to shortstop, throwing sidearm. In college his coach tried to convert him back to the normal pitching motion, but Neshek wasn't having success and has kept his delivery ever since.
Perkins told the audience how he thought his season was over during a blowout in the minor league playoffs. He threw his cleats into the trash and packed his bag. However, after the game, Twins general manager Terry Ryan had come personally to tell him he was being called up to the majors. In the excitement Perkins never retrieved his cleats and had to use a teammates' pair while he pitched in the majors during late September.
It appeared everyone that attended the caravan enjoyed themselves, were able to get some autographs and were able to see both the past, present and future of Twins pitching.
In an upcoming column, I will profile what Morris, Neshek and Perkins had to say before the event, including Morris' thoughts on the 1991 World Series.
TREVOR WILLIAMS, sports copy editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5866.
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