61st Twins Winter Caravan visits Brookings

Brayden Byers, Sports Reporter

Twins players, alumni and broadcasters are out on the road traveling to 12 different communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. The Brookings event featured catcher Ryan Jeffers, Jackrabbit baseball alumni Caleb Thielbar and Hall of Famer Tony Oliva with longtime television voice Dick Bremer emceeing.

“I love doing that,” said Oliva about the caravan. He was elected and inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022, “I’ve been doing that since the ‘60s. The Minnesota Twins, they have it as a tradition for the caravan every year.”

Thielbar, who lives and trains in Brookings during the offseason, said that he doesn’t quite get star struck when he takes the field at Target Field, but that his favorite thing about being a Twin is playing for his favorite team growing up and getting to take part in these opportunities throughout Twins Territory.

Thielbar started things off by announcing that the Jackrabbit football team will be playing against Drake in Minneapolis at Target Field Sept. 16. He said that tickets will go on sale shortly after Twins Fest which takes place Jan. 28 and 29. 

Jeffers and Thielbar, along with the entirety of the Twins roster, has been training during the offseason expecting good things to come of this year.

“The offseason has been good,” Thielbar said. “I’ve been out here every day preparing for the season and spending some good quality time with my family and between those two things, it takes up all of my time.”

Thielbar’s wife, Carissa, is in her ninth season as an assistant coach of the Jackrabbit Women’s basketball team.

The Twins have made some key moves this offseason after narrowly missing the playoffs last year after injuries tanked their record late. Outfielder Carlos Correa is back on a six-year deal as well as bolstering the pitching staff with names like Chris Paddack and Pablo Lopez. 

“It’s nice to get some guys in that have had a lot of success, It’s just a matter of replicating that with the Twins.”

Along with roster changes also come some rule changes in the 2023 MLB season. The most notable being the pitch clock which will be implemented. The MLB will also implement a pickoff limit for pitchers, defensive shift restrictions as well as making the bases by three square inches which will shorten the distance between bases.

“The minor leagues have been testing some of these rules and we haven’t seen a ton of drastic changes statically with the run game.” Jeffers said speaking from a catcher’s perspective, “Spring Training will be kind of a test run for all of us, but as a player it is our job to go out there and play games.”

“The shorter time a pitcher takes, the harder it is to hit it,” said Oliva, who finished his career with a .476 slugging percentage. “I liked to take my time, to be ready.”

We will get to see these changes for the first time when spring training begins in a month. Pitchers and catchers will report Feb. 16, while the Twins will open with split squad games against Tampa Bay and Baltimore on the 25 in Fort Myers, Florida. Their schedule will also include a game against the Dominican Republic national team on March 9.

The MLB regular season will begin March 30 with a 6-game road trip against the Royals and Marlins in Kansas City and Miami.

Their home opener will be against the defending American League champion Houston Astros at Target Field April 6 at 3:10 p.m.

The Twins’ will also participate in other events throughout the region before the season starts including the Justin Morneau Ice Fishing Classic, as well as Twins Fest.