Former Twins in awe of new digs

Former Twins in awe of new digs

MINNEAPOLIS -- On a weekend planned to say goodbye to the Metrodome, many former players returning to Minnesota got their first look at the new Target Field, the Twins' outdoor home beginning next season.

Seemingly all the Twins' alumni were in awe of the new place.

"It's very impressive," former closer Rick Aguilera said. "I think they've done a great job with the design. A downtown ballpark's always exciting."

"This is a great place," said outfielder Jacque Jones. "They paid attention to it seems like every detail."

"It's awesome," lauded Gary Gaetti. "There's no more excuses now about baseball here in Minnesota. Their baseball facility is going to be awesome."

A handful of former Twins were given a tour of Target Field by Twins executive director of public affairs Kevin Smith on Sunday morning prior to Minnesota's 13-4 win over Kansas City. On the tour, players were taken around the concourse, up to see the Legend's Club, down to the dugout and into the home clubhouse.

The 2700-square-foot locker room was noticeably bigger than the confines they were used to at the Dome.

"This isn't very nice," Gaetti quipped.

"It's state-of-the-art," former pitcher Frank Viola said. "It's one of those locker rooms where you can be on one end and still talk to somebody on the other end, no problems. Everything has been done first-class, and I wouldn't expect anything else from the Twins."

Seeing the open air and freshly cut grass at Target Field even had one player wishing he could throw on the uniform and cleats again.

"I'm jealous after seeing all that," Gaetti said. "It makes me want to play."

With a chill in the air Sunday morning, some of the players' conversations naturally turned to the weather. Many wondered how Twins fans would handle an October game outdoors.

"The Minnesota mentality is, 'You know what, it's cold, but it's not that cold to us. This is normal for us,'" Viola said. "It's us who have left the area, gone to Florida. My blood's thinned out. This is cold for me."

"They'll have to deal with the elements now, which sometimes obviously in Minnesota can be tough," Aguilera said. "I think Minnesotans can adapt to anything."

Some recalled late-season trips to other northern cities such as Chicago and Detroit, when the days were cold and damp.

"They're going to have some of those days," Aguilera said.

Jones was particularly impressed with the way the new stadium infused Twins legends into the park, including a mural of one of the most beloved Twins of all-time, Kirby Puckett, in the Legend's Club area of the park.

"I liked it. This wouldn't be complete without something of him," Jones said. "It's just a shame he's not here to see it. ... He probably made this place possible."

Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.