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Twins Winter Caravan visits Alexandria (w/video)

Twins representatives (from left to right) infielder Brian Dozier, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, relief pitcher Glen Perkins and radio announcer Dan Gladden (not pictured) answer questions from Alexandria area baseball fans last Wednesday as part of the team’s winter caravan.2 / 3
Blaze Fugina | Echo Press Haylee Anderson, Kristin Anderson and Emily Anderson (left to right) check out an autographed baseball from Twins relief pitcher Glenn Perkins during the team’s winter caravan event last Wednesday. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)3 / 3

Alexandria area baseball fans had the opportunity to get close to some major league visitors when the Twins Winter Caravan made a stop at Alexandria’s Holiday Inn last Wednesday.

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About 100 area baseball fans asked questions and received autographs from Twins infielder Brian Dozier, relief pitcher Glen Perkins, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, and radio announcer and former player Dan Gladden during part of the team’s annual winter caravan event.

While these team representatives spent about 30 minutes answering questions from the crowd, one message they made apparent was their eagerness to get on the field and improve after a dismal 66-96 season in 2013.

“I’ve been through my time personally, ups and downs and those kinds of things, and you kind of get over that hump and you don’t care about that,” Dozier said. “You want to win baseball games, and I’m sure I speak for (Perkins) too, that’s what we’re here to do.”

Another question asked of the Twins players was about the potential new rule changes in the MLB allowing the use of instant replay and banning home plate collisions.

Perkins, the team’s union representative for the Major League Baseball Players Association, explained that every manager will get one challenge per game and will receive an additional one if they are successful.

“I think the best way to explain the instant replay is the goal to get as many calls right as possible,” Perkins said. “The funny thing is the umpires are as in favor of it as we are.”

Perkins said a rule banning contact with catchers in the MLB has not yet been finalized. He expects a new rule to be announced this year during spring training.

“I think what’s going to happen is they are going to require the runner to slide into home plate and they will go from there,” he said, adding that MLB players will no longer be able to head into the plate standing up on close plays.

One fan in the crowd asked why longtime first baseman Justin Morneau was not re-signed by the Twins. Brunansky said the team opted to trade him in the final year of his contract last season to give him a chance to compete in the playoffs with Pittsburgh. When he became a free agent, Joe Mauer’s switch to first base did not give the team an opportunity to re-sign him.

“There is nobody (that is) a finer person and a finer clubhouse guy to play with than Justin Morneau,” Brunansky said.

The Twins’ pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training on February 16. The team begins the regular season schedule on the road against the Chicago White Sox on March 31.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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