Another shot of winter is headed for the Twin Cities but it can't dampen the excitement created by TwinsFest over the weekend.
Spring training is now three weeks away and fans are already full of anticipation for the 2016 season that starts in the sunshine and palm trees of Fort Myers, Florida. The Twins defied baseball watchers by finishing 83-79 last season, ending a string of four consecutive seasons of 90-plus losses and jettisoning the Twins to second place in the American League Central Division.
Hall of Fame Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven insists the excitement for the Twins is no accident.
"It's easy to see, fans love this team and this Twins team is on the rise with a great deal of young talent," he told BringMeTheNews. "If the Twins can stay healthy, if Joe Mauer can regain some of his productivity and some of the pitching concerns get taken care of, who knows, perhaps the Twins can enjoy the playoffs again. Yes, there are a few 'ifs.'"
TwinsFest is also the last chance many players will get to be one-on-one with fans before departing for Florida.
Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson tells us he "loved the (Twins) Caravan and seeing the fans here at TwinsFest. Hey, the fans stuck with us through some rough days and now we're turning the corner. This should be a great season ahead."
The Twins report more than 25,000 fans attended the three-day run of TwinsFest.
It's the first time the fan gathering has drawn in excess of 14,000 while hosted at Target Field. For now, the Twins will consider – but make no decision – regarding a possible move of TwinsFest across town to the new U.S. Bank Stadium in 2017.
The team's biggest TwinsFest gatherings were staged at Metrodome and in 2007, 35,000 fans took part. TwinsFest also raised around $300,000, money that's earmarked for the Twins Community Fund.