Minnesota Twins 

Twins Get New Alternates

Opening Day may still be months away, but the Minnesota Twins are already making some changes in the way the team will look for the 2006 season.
On Wednesday, the Twins will unveil two new jerseys to be worn by the club during the upcoming year.

The headliner of the uniform additions will be the introduction of a white sleeveless jersey as an alternate home uniform. The new jersey will be similar to the traditional white Twins home jersey, with blue pinstripes and the Twins script logo in red on the front. A navy blue undergarment will be worn in combination with the jersey. It is the first time in club history that Minnesota will sport a sleeveless jersey during games.

"We've seen some of the other teams around the league have these types of jerseys, and we liked the look," said Brad Ruiter, Twins director of corporate communications. "It's been a few years since we added a uniform to the mix, so we decided to add this sleeveless jersey to our ensemble."

The Twins will also unveil a newly designed navy blue alternate/batting practice jersey that will replace a similar one worn during the 2005 season. The new batting practice jersey will feature the traditional red and white "TC" logo on the upper left portion of the chest with the back featuring players' numbers in red.

Adding the sleeveless jersey means the Twins now have six uniform combinations. In 2005, Minnesota wore five different uniform options: a home white jersey and pants with blue pinstripes; a home navy blue jersey and white pants with blue pinstripes; a gray away jersey and pants with blue pinstripes; a road navy blue jersey and gray pants with blue pinstripes; and a standard navy blue practice jersey with either white or gray pants.

It has yet to be determined exactly when the new jerseys will be worn or how often, but the first priority is to introduce them to Twins fans.

"We wanted to make sure that the new jerseys were available to the fans prior to the holidays," Ruiter said. "We've had very positive feedback from our players on the look and we wanted our fans to have the opportunity to get that new look for their favorite Twins fan."

Twinsfest tickets

Tickets for TwinsFest 2006 are now on sale. TwinsFest is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 27-29 at the Metrodome. More than 50 current, former and future Twins players are scheduled to appear throughout the course of the weekend.

The Twins will launch single-game ticket sales for the 2006 season exclusively at TwinsFest on Jan. 27 from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Admission prices are $8 in advance for adults ($10 at the door) and $3 in advance for children ($5 at the door). Tickets are now on sale by calling (612) 33-TWINS or 1-800-33-TWINS, visiting the Twins Pro Shops in Roseville, Apple Valley or Minnetonka, at www.twinsbaseball.com or at the Twins' Metro-dome box office.

Marlins send Castillo to Twins

Homegrown Marlin Luis Castillo, one of the most decorated and productive players in franchise history, was dealt to the Twins on Friday for two Minor League pitchers.
The 30-year-old Castillo is heading to Minnesota for hard-throwing reliever Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler, who can start or relieve.

Castillo is the latest cost-cutting move by the Marlins, who are streamlining their payroll now that their stadium efforts in downtown Miami have fallen through.

"Luis Castillo has been a tremendous player in this organization for a long time," Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said. "He's an All-Star, a Gold Glover, a world champion. Obviously, it was a tough trade to make but necessary, given our market correction to our payroll. We're excited about the young players coming back."

The Marlins continue to stockpile pitching. Bowyer throws 98 mph, and he projects as a possible closer. Bowyer is a power pitcher who went to the Arizona Fall League to refine his breaking pitches and slider. In the AFL, the right-hander was 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA with one save in 10 games. He did strike out 19 while walking two in 15 1/3 innings.

In a brief stint with the Twins, Bowyer was 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA, striking out 12 with three walks in 9 2/3 innings. And he posted a 4-2 record with a 2.78 ERA and 23 saves in 74 1/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester this season.

Tyler went 7-8 with a 3.95 ERA for Fort Myers in the Florida State Class A League.

"Bowyer is a big right-hander with a 98 mph fastball," Beinfest said. "We think he's going to fit right into our bullpen and into our future. Scott Tyler will go into our system, and we also think he has a bright future as a starter in the organization."

About Bowyer, Beinfest said: "That was the thought when we acquired him, that he is a future closer. We think he has the stuff to do it."

A three-time All-Star and reigning three-time Gold Glove winning second baseman, Castillo was signed by the Marlins out of his home in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1992.

The switch-hitting second baseman played in 75 games for the Marlins' 1997 World Series championship team, and he was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner on the 2003 World Series championship squad.

Beinfest broke the news to Castillo early Friday afternoon. The deal had been in the works since shortly before Thanksgiving.

"Obviously, it was a tough phone call," Beinfest said. "He will do fine. We wish him well and thank him for everything."

Castillo hit .301 in 122 games in 2005, and he has a career average of .293. He is the Marlins' all-time leader in numerous categories, including games played (1,127), triples (42), walks (532), hits (1,272) and stolen bases (281).

In 2002, Castillo hit safely in 35 straight games, which was the longest hitting streak in the Major Leagues since 1987 until Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies topped that mark by hitting safely in 36 straight games when the season ended.

With Castillo traded and shortstop Alex Gonzalez expected to leave through free agency, the Majors' longest-running double-play combination is being broken up. Castillo and Gonzalez started 715 games together, while second-place tandem Rafael Furcal and Marcus Giles of Atlanta aren't yet at 400 games. Castillo and Gonzalez combined for 356 doubles plays, including 52 in 2005.
Castillo is set to make $5 million in 2006, and he has a team option for $5.75 million in 2007.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin next week in Dallas, the Marlins already have moved many key players, including Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado, Guillermo Mota and now Castillo.

Beinfest noted that the club will remain active through the Winter Meetings, and speculation is growing that center fielder Juan Pierre and catcher Paul Lo Duca will be dealt by the end of next week.

The Yankees already have expressed interest in Pierre. And Lo Duca has attracted attention from the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Mets. Lo Duca is set to earn $6.25 million, and Pierre is in line to make about $5.5 million through arbitration.

"At this point, we're not going to respond to trade rumors," Beinfest said. "We've been very active. We're going to remain active. We're bringing our complement of people to Dallas. We'll look at achieving what we need to achieve, and we're going to try to get the ballclub fortified for the regular season.

"We still do have a plan of action as we head to Dallas, and we're going to follow through on it."

With payroll dipping from a franchise-record $65 million in 2005 to closer to $30 million for next season, Beinfest pointed out he is following through on a directive to groom the franchise for the future.

Castillo's departure creates an opening at second base for the Marlins. Beinfest noted that internally, the club is considering converted shortstop Josh Wilson. Robert Andino, called up in September to play shortstop, could be moved to second now that the club has obtained prospect Hanley Ramirez from the Red Sox to play short. Recently signed journeyman Alfredo Amezaga also will get a chance.

Beinfest, however, didn't rule out acquiring a second baseman in either a trade or a modestly priced free agency signing. Veterans like Rich Aurilia would fill that description.

"I wouldn't rule out reasonable free agency or trade to fill the second-base spot," Beinfest said.

Formerly a leadoff hitter, Castillo batted second most of the past three seasons after Pierre was acquired after the 2002 season from Colorado.

Last season, Castillo's health became an issue as he was plagued by hip and quadriceps problems. The injuries greatly reduced his threat to steal, as he swiped only 10 bases in 17 attempts.

Eight Twins agree to play in WBC

A list of players willing to compete in the World Baseball Classic was announced on Monday and with eight current Twins players on that list, the event will have a decidedly Minnesota flair to it.
Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Juan Castro, Jesse Crain, Justin Morneau, J.C. Romero, Carlos Silva and Glenn Williams were among the 177 players announced on Monday that have agreed to participate in the inaugural event, if asked.

Though all players on the release have said that they would be willing to participate, the announcement doesn't mean that all the players listed would be on the final rosters. The list simply is which players would play if chosen to compete.

Sixty-man rosters for each country must be submitted by Jan. 17 with the ultimate 30-man rosters finalized 24 hours prior to the start of the tournament. The final rosters for each country must include a minimum of 13 pitchers and three catchers.

MLB has committed to using 60 percent of Major League-affiliated players. All the players announced on Monday have the blessings of the players association and the MLB owners, who have collectively spent months in the initial culling process.

Six different countries could feature Twins on their rosters, but the one most impacted appears to be Venezuela. Santana's decision to pitch for his native country bolstered an already strong staff. The addition of Santana didn't come as much of a surprise after fellow Venezuelan and White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia announced on Saturday that he would play for the country.

Santana may have appeared to be a lock for the event for Venezuela, but Silva's decision to join the country's roster was a bit of a surprise. Silva has been recovering from knee surgery and many had questioned whether he would be able to participate. The addition of Santana and Silva looks to make Venezuela a front-runner for the best pitching staff at the tournament.

Canada will also feature two Twins players, with Crain and Morneau agreeing to play for the Northern country. Crain had the option to play for either the United States or Canada, but to Canada's advantage, the pitcher will star under the red and white flag. The rest of the Twins breakdown is as follows, with Mauer playing for the United States, Castro for Mexico, Romero for Puerto Rico and Williams for Australia.

In addition to the eight current Minnesota players, former Twin Tony Fiore will also participate as a member of the Italian squad. Fiore last played in the Majors as a member of the Twins in 2003.
Monday's announcement was the first time that all the names of players were made public, but some players made their interest known much earlier in the process. Castro announced his commitment back in September and was excited about the opportunity to play for his native country.

"It'll be a good event for people everywhere," Castro said. "It's an honor to be invited. I don't know when I'll have the chance again to represent Mexico."

The inaugural World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will take place March 3-20 and feature the world's best players competing for their home countries and territories for the first time. Fans will be able to follow all the games live exclusively online at MLB.com.

First-round action will be played at four sites. Pool A, consisting of Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and China, will meet at the Tokyo Dome, March 3-5. Pool B, featuring USA, Canada, Mexico and South Africa, will play at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Scottsdale Stadium, Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants, March 7-10. Pool C is Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama and the Netherlands, and will play at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 7-10. Pool D, featuring the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia and Italy, will play at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, March 7-10.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the second round, which takes place March 12-15 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico and Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The semifinals and finals will be held at San Diego's PETCO Park, March 18-20.

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