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First responders at heart of Twins' 9/11 tribute

Gibson ready for return to mound; Buxton's surgery a success
@dohyoungpark
September 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Taylor Rogers and his twin brother, Tyler, were 10 years old and had just gotten to elementary school in Colorado when the United States was attacked on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Taylor Rogers remembers seeing the firefighters on television and thinking to himself, "That's what Dad

MINNEAPOLIS -- Taylor Rogers and his twin brother, Tyler, were 10 years old and had just gotten to elementary school in Colorado when the United States was attacked on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Taylor Rogers remembers seeing the firefighters on television and thinking to himself, "That's what Dad would be doing."

Rogers' father, Scott, was based out of Colorado and thus wasn't one of the first responders on the scene at the World Trade Center that morning. But the thing that sticks to this day with Rogers, a descendant of four generations of firefighters, is the idea that those heroes were fathers and mothers of kids just like him.

"My biggest thing was, what if that was my dad running up the stairs?" Rogers said. "And would I never have seen him again? So I always felt for those kids that said bye to their fathers or mothers and never saw them again. They remember that every day, so I didn't want Sept. 11 to be forgotten."

Because Rogers has felt that the remembrance of Sept. 11 has waned a bit over the last several years, he wanted to make a gesture to bring it back to the forefront on Wednesday.

Before the Twins' game against the Nationals at Target Field, the Twins hosted a pregame ceremony recognizing the Rogers Family Foundation, an organization founded by Rogers dedicated to caring for the mental wellness of first responders. They also honored the 133rd Airlift Wing based out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Joint Air Reserve Station and the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing, which both played important roles in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Forty-five first responders, representing police, fire and EMS departments, joined members of the Twins and Nationals on the field for the national anthem. Rogers' father and uncle, both firefighters, were in attendance in full uniform for the ceremony following several days of getting to know the first responders from the Twin Cities and discussing their methods.

Rogers was also on the field to catch a ceremonial first pitch from Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, who learned of the ceremony at Target Field and requested to attend.

The ceremony represented the culmination of a busy week for Rogers, who also hosted a dinner for firefighters at Fire Station No. 6 in Minneapolis on Sunday with teammate Tyler Duffey to show appreciation for their work. Though he and his brother haven't been able to continue the family line of work yet, Rogers said proudly on Wednesday that a member of his family has been a first responder for more than 100 straight years.

"You've got the players whose kids grew up in a clubhouse, right? I grew up in a firehouse. I just felt at home," Rogers said. "We're having dinner with these guys, and then they had a call in the middle of it. They had to go. That just brought it home to me even more that these guys help us out."

Gibson feeling much better after time off

Kyle Gibson noted with relief that his newborn third child, Rossilyn, has been sleeping much better than his two older kids, Hayden and Mills, had when they were first born.

That helped Gibson rest more easily during his 10 days on the injured list to help him recover during his continued battle with ulcerative colitis. He was activated from the IL on Tuesday in advance of his planned start against the Nationals in Thursday evening's series finale at Target Field.

Gibson said that the time off his feet to rest and deal with the inflammation in his gastrointestinal tract has been a big help.

"Felt a big difference, a big difference," Gibson said. "I was having to labor so much with my upper body, because my lower body just wasn’t there, that I was starting to do things mechanically that I don’t normally do. So being able to have my lower body back underneath me and getting my direction back and being able to utilize that part of my delivery to take some stress off my upper body has been huge."

Gibson still doesn't feel that he's at 100 percent, but he said that he has been sleeping much more regularly, his appetite is better, and he is feeling optimistic that his recovery is trending in the right direction. Significantly, he also feels that the added strength in his lower half will help him regularize his mechanics, as he had been putting too much strain on his upper half to compensate for the weakness prior to his stint on the IL.

Buxton's surgery a success

Manager Rocco Baldelli announced that the surgery on Byron Buxton's labrum in his left shoulder on Tuesday was completed successfully, and the Twins have received "very good" updates from the doctors. The Twins expect Buxton to return to Minneapolis to rejoin the team when he is ready to do so.

Buxton (left shoulder surgery) out for season

"When you do go in for most surgeries, you are not 100 percent sure what you are going to find," Baldelli said. "You have an idea. But everything they found matched up well. Probably was similar -- maybe slightly less -- damage than what was expected, but that probably leads us in a very similar spot as before we went in for the surgery. Nothing has changed, which is a good thing."

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