MINNEAPOLIS -- It's impossible to foresee how the next three-plus weeks of summer camp at Target Field will go for the Twins, simply because there's no precedent for ramping up an entire roster of players from a half-ready state to full go for a season, and, more to the point,
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's impossible to foresee how the next three-plus weeks of summer camp at Target Field will go for the Twins, simply because there's no precedent for ramping up an entire roster of players from a half-ready state to full go for a season, and, more to the point, nobody has ever needed to arrange a second training camp in the middle of a global pandemic.
So, what exactly could things look like in the coming weeks?
The facilities at Target Field are much less extensive than those at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, where Spring Training is ordinarily held, with only one full field available to the team for its outdoor work. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Thursday that the Twins will stagger their work throughout the day, space out around the stadium as well as they can and repurpose locations both indoors and outdoors to conform with the new guidelines.
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He mentioned, for example, that without fans in the stadium, the Champions Club space could be used for food distribution, and the Sid Hartman Press Conference Room could also be an alternate site for team use. There's plenty of concourse space around the ballpark for players to do training activities and hold meetings and socialize more safely in an outdoor environment.
"I think it’s going to take a real effort and a coordinated effort between players, staff or anyone who even comes in contact with players or otherwise to help manage this going forward," Falvey said. "I'm a science guy at heart and want to follow that first and foremost and make sure we control what we can control around the environment and making sure our players are aware of what the next steps need to be on their end."
The card tables and lounging areas in the indoor clubhouse will go away. Large group activities will be limited as much as possible, with several spaces designated around the stadium for work in smaller teams. Falvey said the team also plans to designate subsets of coaches to only work with specific players.
The Twins are already planning to establish their guidelines in addition to the health outline agreed upon by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, and they hope to make those protocols clear to their players. But the daily life of summer camp will remain a mystery until the Twins actually get the chance to deal with it.
"None of us will truly know until we go through it on a daily basis," Falvey said.
Even as they work through all of these precautions to get camp mobilized, it's still anyone's guess as to whether the three-week period will be enough to responsibly get everybody into playing condition -- and that's likely not going to be made clear until players arrive, have physical evaluations and establish new routines.
Keeping everybody safe in the midst of the pandemic is undoubtedly the foremost priority, but the Twins will also need to keep a close eye on managing the injury concerns that could arise as part of an abbreviated ramp-up process. Falvey said that he and the Twins' staff are well aware of the scientific research in that area, and they're conscious of the idea that players could need additional rest and limitations at the start of the new regular season.
They'll also need to pay careful attention to how to divide up the three weeks of summer camp between conditioning and intrasquad games, since hitters and starting pitchers in particular will often rely on the latter to find their feel and timing for the season. In typical Spring Training, a conditioning period builds to several days of live batting practice and five weeks of games.
"With a shortened Spring Training, we need to get guys playing games and taking regular at-bats against live pitching in a way that is appropriate here as soon as we can," Falvey said.
The Twins have been careful to maintain some physical activity among their players without building them too far back up. For example, Falvey said that Jake Odorizzi has maintained simulated games of around 50 pitches, but it remains to be seen how well that will build to max-effort appearances in a short time frame, and with that in mind, the Twins are expected to stretch out more than five starters, with an expanded rotation as an option depending on how the arms respond.
It's uncharted territory, and the Twins will have to adjust in every possible way. Then again, so will everyone else.
"No, it's not [enough time], but that's what we're given," Taylor Rogers said on Wednesday.
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.