BOSTON -- As Twins rookie right fielder Max Kepler walked onto field at Fenway Park to take batting practice at the historic ballpark for the first time in his career on Thursday, he heard a familiar voice call out his childhood nickname.
Kepler turned around and immediately recognized it was his mom, Kathy, who surprised him by flying in from his native Berlin to see him play in the Majors for the first time. She was joined by his sister, Emma, who attends Florida State University, and was also able to make the surprise trip.
"I heard my mom yelling my nickname, which only they know," Kepler said. "So I heard that and turned around, and I was in shock. I was just so happy. My family means the world to me."
Kepler was made to believe that his mom and sister weren't coming to see him play until early August in Tampa, Fla., so it came as a genuine surprise to see them at the game. His mom previously made the trip to Minnesota to try to see Kepler last year when he was called up the last week of the season, but he didn't play in any of the games she attended. So Kepler said he had to keep his emotions in check, but he was able to go 2-for-4 in Minnesota's 13-2 loss.
"I tried to control them," Kepler said. "But I was definitely excited to see them. I was more excited in BP than I ever had been. I was swinging as hard as I could just to impress them. But once the game started, I was able to tone it down a little and focus."
Kepler credited his mom for helping him with his development both on and off the field, as she lived with him in Fort Myers, Fla., when he was first signed by the club as a 16-year-old amateur free agent from Germany. Kepler received an $800,000 signing bonus, which was a then-record for a European player.
His mom and his dad, Marek, were both professional ballet dancers in Berlin, and he said he learned valuable lessons from both of them that he's carried over into baseball.
"Just to be persistent and not give up on yourself," Kepler said. "I like to use the example of when they'd be on the stage and make a mistake, but the show has to go on. You can't stop and reboot. You have to keep going. I transfer that over to baseball. If I have a rough day, I move on."
• Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, out since July 2 with a fractured left rib, has progressed to doing light running drills, hitting off a tee and playing catch from 90 feet, according to manager Paul Molitor. He's getting closer to full baseball activities, but there's still no timetable for his return.
• Catcher Kurt Suzuki has been banged up recently behind the plate, and he was held out of the starting lineup on Friday. But Molitor said he expects Suzuki to be back on Saturday.