Five things to know as Twins spring training begins

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (25) high fives third baseman Miguel Sano (22) after beating the Baltimore Orioles during a 2018 game. Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (25) high fives third baseman Miguel Sano (22) after beating the Baltimore Orioles during a 2018 game. Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports

The past two weeks have brought bitter cold and waves of snow to the Twin Cities.

But as winter continues to drag along in Minnesota, the Twins are heading south to warmer weather, gearing up to begin spring training down in sunny Fort Myers, Fla.

Here are five things to know as Twins camp opens up this week:

SPRING CHANGES

When the Twins hit the field, expect some changes with regard to how spring training workouts are conducted now that new manager Rocco Baldelli is running the show.

Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said the team would push back start times, and the team is looking to utilize its time more efficiently, with players spending less time standing around and more time doing targeted work.

“The overarching premise here is to really think more about individualized work (and) really trying to get each player a specific focus around some areas that they’ll be working on,” Falvey said.

BOUNCE-BACK SEASON

The Twins are looking for big bounce-back seasons from a number of players, especially Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.

A year removed from being an all-star with the Orioles, second baseman Jonathan Schoop is another player Twins will be relying on after he had a down year in 2017.

“I think we certainly want to see some guys rebound relative to last year and I fully expect that we’re in a good place around that,” Falvey said. “On the position player side, I’m looking to see some rebound from some of our group and just overall health.”Spring training numbers are difficult to put much stock in, but the Twins should get plenty of early clues this spring.

“I don’t know that we’ll have true answers on full bounce back for that group, but I am hopeful that physically they’re in good places to compete right from the get-go,” Falvey said.

PITCHING COMPETITION

The Twins signed Martin Perez last month, and the veteran lefty appears to be the frontrunner to slot into the fifth spot of the rotation.

There appear to be five locks in the bullpen -- Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, Blake Parker, Addison Reed and Taylor Rogers — so the Twins will have a battle for the remaining spots, with guys like Fernando Romero and Adalberto Mejia among those in the mix.

“I think there’s some competition certainly in the bullpen group,” Falvey said. “There’s some young arms (with) a chance to maybe establish themselves in different ways, guys that have had some up and down historically that now are at a stage with respect to service time where they’ve really established themselves at the big-league level and can make an impact.”

KEY DATES

The Twins will hold their first workout for pitchers and catchers on Thursday, Feb. 14. Four days later, the whole team will work out together for the first time.

They will play their first spring training games on Feb. 23, split-squad affairs against Tampa Bay at home and at Baltimore.

The Twins’ final game in Florida this spring will be March 26 against Colorado. Then, they head home for Opening Day at Target Field on March 28 against the Cleveland Indians.

HOW TO FOLLOW ALONG

For fans wishing to follow along with the Twins, select games can be watched on TV, with Fox Sports North televising 11 games. ESPN will broadcast the Twins’ March 7 game against the Boston Red Sox, their Fort Myers neighbor.

Twenty more games will be available to listen to either on WCCO radio or the Treasure Island Baseball Network, and broadcasts can be streamed at the Twins’ official website, too.