Ryan, St. Peter talk 2016 to open TwinsFest

GM, team president give updates on state of the franchise

January 29th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins president Dave St. Peter and general manager Terry Ryan gave a state of the franchise address at the annual media luncheon to start the festivities for TwinsFest at Target Field on Friday.

The major announcement was that Torii Hunter and John Gordon were elected to the Twins Hall of Fame, but Ryan also announced that Hunter will be a Spring Training special instructor, along with former Twins relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Rick Aguilera. The Twins expect Rod Carew, who will be at TwinsFest on Saturday despite suffering a heart attack in September, will be able to make it down to be an instructor in Fort Myers, Fla., as well.

"It looks like Rod will be healthy enough to join us, which would be a tremendous add," Ryan said. "LaTroy Hawkins is a new addition and will be there on Feb. 21. Rick Aguilera is also new, and he'll come on March 10. Torii Hunter will join us on Feb. 26. I'm hoping him and Miguel [Sano] forge a great bond; he can help him in right field."

St. Peter added the club is continuing to improve their Spring Training complex, as they're adding more shade to the outfield boardwalk that was created in 2014. The Twins are also in the midst of creating a new multi-level section above the batter's eye in center field at Target Field that will be ready in time for the start of the season.

But the biggest change at Target Field is the Twins are installing new netting behind home plate that is easier to see through as well as a six-foot net above both dugouts. St. Peter said the Twins decided to go above and beyond Major League Baseball's new protocols because the seats at Target Field are closer to home plate than any other park due to the intimacy of the stadium.

"Our seats are closer than other team, and I've seen that data and it's not really close," St. Peter said. "That was one of the beauties of Target Field with the intimate sightlines. But if I had to do it all over again with Target Field, I would've put nets in then, but we didn't. But we're doing it now."

Here are other highlights from St. Peter and Ryan:

• The Twins unveiled new red alternate jerseys that will be worn on Fridays at Target Field throughout the season. The jersey and hat both feature the "TC" logo and feature a Kasota gold trim.

• The Twins are set to open a new facility in the Dominican Republic to increase their presence there. They'll share the $18 million facility with the Phillies and hope that it will be ready by September.

"There's a lot of things we're investing in beyond payroll to make us better," St. Peter said. "We want to make this the best in the Dominican Republic."

• The Twins saw an increase in season-ticket sales after they went 83-79 last year to finish with their first winning record since 2010. They've already sold 1.2 million tickets and are hoping to bring in more than 2.3 million fans for the first time since 2013. They had a 90-percent renewal rate for season-ticket holders after it was 75 percent last year. Opening Day tickets went on sale on Friday, while single-game tickets go on sale on Feb. 20.

• The Twins will televise 11 of their Spring Training games on Fox Sports North, while the Twins Radio Network will air 14 games.