Oops! Twins retract offer charging $15 to watch batting practice

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UPDATE: OK, now this is weird. Twins corporate communications senior manager Chris Iles just sent out another press release retracting the whole “early entry” offer from this morning:

My apologies as I sent a release out prematurely earlier today. The early entry program outlined in the release was not fully vetted across the Twins organization. To that end, please disregard the earlier release as the Minnesota Twins will not be offering an early entry program as stated earlier today. There will be no change in policy regarding gate opening times and season ticket holders will continue to be given early-access priority as part of the Sweet Spot program. On behalf of the Twins, we apologize for a lack of internal communication which led to the premature release of this misinformation.

Suffice it so say that the reaction among fans was not positive.

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Today the Twins sent out a press release “announcing plans for an early entry program that will allow fans into Target Field 45 minutes before gates open to the general public, allowing them to view a majority of Twins batting practice.”

They’re charging $15 to get into the ballpark 45 minutes ahead of everyone else and fans have to a) already have actual tickets to the game, and b) line up outside even earlier to get one of 60 available spots for each night game.

Apparently quite a few other teams have a similar program, but I’ll be curious to see what the interest level is like in this case because the Twins are having a hard enough time selling regular tickets to games at this point. I can’t imagine paying $15 to watch some batting practice, although for kids interested in snagging a home run ball it sounds like a pretty favorable setup.

UPDATE: Apparently the Astros charge $45 for a “VIP view” of batting practice, in which case $15 for the Twins is a helluva bargain.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.