FORT MYERS, Fla. — The days before spring training when Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey would normally be focused on packing and preparing to move from his home in Houston to training camp in southwest Florida looked quite a bit different this year.
A winter storm and cold snap left millions of Texans without water, power or both, leading to suspected hypothermia deaths, carbon monoxide poisonings and fatal car crashes. Though the Duffeys stayed safe, they were not immune to the conditions affecting millions of Texans.
“It was a pretty wild four days for us. We didn’t have water,” the Twins reliever said. “A lot (of people) didn’t have water or power, so therefore, no heat. It got pretty ugly some places. They’re burning their kids’ furniture or stuff like that to stay warm in their houses. It’s a pretty awful scene in some of those places.”
Duffey, his wife, Sarah, and their young son, Teddy, were initially supposed to journey to Fort Myers last Monday. They made it out on Thursday, and Duffey was a late arrival to camp on Sunday after passing through intake testing.
“We were fortunate that our families lost power and water back and forth, so we bounced around from house to house,” Duffy said. “But we were fortunate enough to get out of there, and now I think the weather’s actually cleared up pretty nice there. … Hopefully some good comes from it and makes some changes to stuff around Houston and Texas as a whole.”
During those four days, Duffey was able to go to a facility and throw at a wall, though there was no heat or light, so he had to prop open the door to be able to see anything.
Now safe, warm and with his teammates in Florida, Duffey was able to throw off the mound on Sunday, his first day of camp, and said the ball was coming out of his hand well. He plans to throw again on Tuesday before facing hitters during live batting practice on Thursday.
“Everything feels good. It’s good to put cleats on and get on the dirt and all that good stuff,” he said. “It’s always an exciting time. Sometimes, you have to tell yourself to dial it back just a little bit. You’re still working into the season.”
The Twins are examining their options as they build starters up after a shortened season, and while manager Rocco Baldelli said they had discussed things like piggybacking starters or a six-man rotation, he said it didn’t seem likely they would go those ways at this point. He also said he didn’t want to close any doors this early in camp.
“A six-man rotation, I’m sure, will continue to be discussed,” Baldelli said. “I know that 14-man pitching staffs will be discussed throughout the league. We spend a lot of time talking about how we are going to use our roster spots.”
The Twins’ rotation is essentially set with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker in place. But they still have a couple of roster spots up for grabs in the bullpen and potentially on the bench that will be a focus this spring.
Teams wound up playing with 28-man rosters throughout the 2020 season. That will revert to 26 for the upcoming season — the number the league originally planned on last year.
“Every potential change or unique move that we could make, like using a six-man rotation, it would create other adjustments and things we have to be willing to soften on,” Baldelli said. “If you’re taking one of those roster spots and you’re putting him in the rotation, you’re certainly going to have to be shorter than you want somewhere else, whether that be in the bullpen or whether that be on your bench. All that being said, I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves in that conversation.”
While most of the team already has cleared intake testing and has been working out at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, Tuesday will mark the Twins’ official first full-squad workout. Baldelli is expected to address his group as a team before the workout begins. It is also the first day the media will be allowed into the stadium.