Live from Target Field

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I’m here at Target Field, the weather is just about perfect, and after a couple decades of watching the Twins in the Metrodome the whole experience almost doesn’t even feel real.
The place is starting to fill up about 75 minutes from the first pitch. Actually, Joe Mauer was asked during batting practice about any surprises associated with the new ballpark and today in general, and the first thing he pointed to was that there were tons of fans lined up outside to greet him as he arrived at 9:00 a.m.
People are unbelievably excited about Target Field, and that includes the players too. Assuming they can find it, of course. Denard Span said that so far he only knows one way to the ballpark because he was so used to driving to the Metrodome. “After the game I might just drive around and try to find my way home,” Span said.
Almost every interview with a player included a few questions about playing outside, which is sort of weird considering even longtime Twins have played at least 50-60 games in non-domes each year. Yet somehow for guys like Michael Cuddyer and other veterans it seemed like a huge change. For a while at least, it may be sort of like playing road games, although Cuddyer noted that he thinks the big homefield advantage in the Metrodome was due more to loud fans than turf, roofs, or baggies. I’m skeptical.
Not much else to report yet. Mostly everyone is walking around saying different variations of “wow.”

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.