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Dammann named Twins' bullpen catcher

Former MACCRAY baseball standout Nate Dammann of Maynard has been hired as the bullpen catcher for the Minnesota Twins.

Dammann, 25, leaves Saturday for Fort Myers, Fla. The Twins begin spring training on Monday.

Dammann, who graduated from MACCRAY in 2000 and from Hamline University in 2004, has been a junior high school substitute teacher in Edina.

"The first thing I did when I heard I got the job with the Twins was retire from teaching," laughed Dammann.

Dammann declined to make his salary public, but added: "It's more money than I ever thought I'd make."

Dammann receives a base salary, plus he will receive a share if the Twins win the Central Division, another share if they win the American League pennant and another share if they are World Series champions.

Dammann heard about the opening from former Twins outfielder and current braodcaster Dan Gladden, whom he works with in Gladden's baseball camps.

"I left a message three times with Mr. Ryan," said Dammann, referring to the Twins general manager Terry Ryan. "He eventually called back and asked me a few personal questions."

Dammann then met a couple of days later with the organization's traveling secretary Remzi Kiratli in a second interview and then two weeks later with assistant general manager Bill Smith in a third interview.

Dammann was then told in mid-January that he got the job.

"I'm really excited," said Dammann, who has been playing amateur baseball with the Hamburg Hawks the past two seasons. "This is really a great opportunity for me. I never expected it to happen after I didn't hear back from them for a while. But I'm very pleased the way it worked out."

Dammann is one of only four high schools baseball players from the area to amass over 100 hits in a career. And he was an all-MIAC catcher for Hamline University. He also played for the Granite Falls amateur baseball team.

So does he have anything he wants to buy now that he's risen above a teacher's salary?

"I just want to be debt-free," he remarked.

Dammann said his parents, Mike, who is the MACCRAY football coach and athletic director, and mother, Julie, were stunned when he told them the good news.

"They were pretty surprised," Nate said. "I didn't really tell them a lot because it was a month-long process and I didn't want them to get their hopes up. It was quite a surprise when I told them."

The Twins will take 30 pitchers to camp on Monday, the most the team has invited in many years. But with Brad Radke retiring and Francisco Liriano on the shelf all season with a shoulder injury, the Twins have some holes to fill.

"We'll have (Joe) Mauer, (Mike) Redmond, Mathew LeCroy, myself and a couple of Triple-A catchers in spring training," said Dammann.

Dammann has three primary responsibilities during the regular season. He will warm up pitchers in the bullpen, pitch batting practice and take care of the baseballs by rubbing them up before the game and making sure the umpires have enough for that day.

"If my bigggest worry is rubbing up a baseball, then I guess I'm all set," laughed Dammann.