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Cron is last line of defense behind the plate

First baseman serving as temporary backup catcher
@dohyoungpark
May 7, 2019

TORONTO -- C.J. Cron strode into the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre clad in full catcher's gear three hours before first pitch on Tuesday, having caught Jake Odorizzi's pregame bullpen session in case he would be needed for emergency catching duty in the Twins' game against the Blue Jays. Odorizzi

TORONTO -- C.J. Cron strode into the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre clad in full catcher's gear three hours before first pitch on Tuesday, having caught Jake Odorizzi's pregame bullpen session in case he would be needed for emergency catching duty in the Twins' game against the Blue Jays. Odorizzi loudly gave his stamp of approval as Cron shed his borrowed gear -- former bullpen catcher Nate Dammann's mitt and some extra catcher's gear that Cron was given.

"It was not that bad," Cron declared. "It was just a bullpen [session], obviously, but it felt good to get back behind the plate."

Because Jason Castro is day to day with a right elbow contusion after getting hit by a pitch in the eighth inning of Monday night's series opener against the Blue Jays, and Willians Astudillo isn't eligible to be reinstated from the injured list until Wednesday, manager Rocco Baldelli revealed that Cron will serve as the Twins' last line of defense at catcher behind Mitch Garver for Tuesday's game.

Cron said that Baldelli had first approached him on Monday about the possibility of catching, but serving as the emergency backstop is nothing new to the first baseman, who was a catcher for part of his career at the University of Utah before moving exclusively to first base when he was drafted by the Angels in 2011.

According to Cron, he was also the Rays' emergency catcher twice last season and served in the role around four times for the Angels.

"Those days, I like to catch a bullpen [session] just in case the crazy scenario comes up, but yeah, every once in a while, I guess," Cron said.

Cruz recalls young Vlad Jr.
Nelson Cruz only shared a clubhouse with Vladimir Guerrero for one year -- with the Rangers, in 2010 -- but he says he remembers how the Hall of Famer's son, a quiet 11-year-old Vladimir Jr., would hang around Texas' clubhouse, hitting and shagging fly balls in the outfield. Cruz said he himself admired the prowess of a young Guerrero Jr. hitting on the field back then.

"Makes me feel old," Cruz said with a laugh.

Cruz said that he and Guerrero Jr. have previously connected via text and talked a little bit last year before reconnecting during Spring Training this year. The pair messaged each other prior to Monday's series opener and caught up while the Twins and Blue Jays were going through their pregame stretching routines on Tuesday.

"Definitely, a guy that his dad was my idol, so definitely, I'm happy for his family," Cruz said. "I know his grandma's around, too. They try to stay together."

Twins honor 2019 Honorary Bat Girl
The Twins have announced that Monica Theis of Robbinsdale, Minn., will serve as their 2019 Honorary Bat Girl for their Mother's Day game against the Tigers at Target Field on Sunday as part of Major League Baseball's support of the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative.

Theis first defeated Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma as a 19-year-old and has battled breast cancer three times (2004, '11 and '15), through which she has undergone a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. The cancer most recently returned as a Stage 4 diagnosis in '15, but Theis is considered fairly stable as she undergoes targeted radiation therapy.

"Just the fact that I wake up every day and that I’m upright and breathing and still able to enjoy life. ... I think focusing on those little daily things, whether it’s going for ice cream in the evening or looking at pretty flowers, for as silly as it seems, sometimes sitting back and taking those moments, and just taking a breath, is very fulfilling," Theis said in a release. "Other than that, it’s time with family and friends and just filling it with easy, happy things."

Theis serves as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

"We're honored to have Monica represent the Twins as our Honorary Bat Girl, and to join her in the fight against breast cancer," said Twins vice president of community engagement Nancy O'Brien in the release. "Through friends, family and loved ones, so many of us are affected by breast cancer. Monica’s story of incredible courage and of embracing the joyful moments of each day truly provide inspiration to us all."

All 30 MLB clubs had the chance to select an honoree that has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the battle against breast cancer. The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise awareness and support for the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative. Players will also use pink bats and wristbands and will wear specially designed caps and uniforms during Sunday's games.

Twins announce $5 tickets for May home games
The Twins announced on Tuesday that tickets for as low as $5 -- without processing fees -- will be made available for all remaining May home games at Target Field. The tickets will be available for purchase at twinsbaseball.com/flashsale until 10 p.m. CT on Thursday.

"As we look to continue building upon baseball’s second-best record, which includes 11 home wins, we’re happy to offer fans another way to come to Target Field and help restore home field advantage for their American League Central-leading Twins," Twins president & CEO Dave St. Peter said.

The Twins' remaining home schedule in May includes four games against the Tigers, three against the Angels, three against the White Sox and two against the Brewers.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.