Notebook: Twins minor league team involved in scary bus accident
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins received a scare early Tuesday morning when a bus carrying several of the team's youngest prospects was involved in a crash outside of Jacksonville, Fla., with a car going the wrong way.
The Twins' rookie league team was en route to Elizabethton, Tenn., to start its season on Thursday.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said there were no injuries suffered among the players. "Everybody came out all right," Terry Ryan said. "I believe they arrived in Elizabethton this afternoon."
Ryan praised the bus driver, whose quick thinking apparently averted an even more tragic incident.
"Every indication is the bus driver did a heck of a job staying out of harm's way," Ryan said. "That's not something you expect to see, a guy coming the wrong way down the interstate. ...
"If you ride around in those buses enough in the minor leagues, you know how important it is to have a good bus driver. We must have a good one, because he alleviated a tragedy."
The driver of the car was killed in the accident. "It's tragic," Ryan said. "You have to feel for any family that loses a member."
Top pick in town
Righthanded pitcher Kohl Stewart, whom the Twins selected with the fourth pick in this month's draft, was in town Tuesday, and according to Ryan, was going through the medical portion of his contract negotiations with the club.
Stewart was spotted in one of the team's suites at Target Field during the Twins' 7-5 win over the White Sox as part of what's expected to be a short visit before he reports to Fort Myers, Fla. pending a contract signing.
Oddly, Ryan had yet to meet Stewart as of Tuesday evening. "I'll meet him for the first time here on this visit," Ryan said.
In fact, Ryan has very little to do with draftees and their subsequent handling. He leaves that to the scouting department. "People in that department are involved from start to finish," he said. "There's no sense in (me) getting involved. (The scouting department) knows what to do, and they go do it."
Ryan spent his entire off day at Target Field taking in all three classes of the high school championship games on Monday.
"I think that's part of the responsibility for the Twins," Ryan said. "For one, we hosted it. Secondly, that's part of amateur baseball, which is our lifeblood. Thirdly, there were players we were interested in."
Ryan didn't stop there, adding: "It was probably the most beautiful day we've had all spring and summer. There's something that's a good feeling when you watch those teams -- especially the smaller ones -- that come from outstate to play in this facility. We believe in amateur baseball. That's part of the responsibility of being a professional franchise in this state. It was a good day for all involved."
B O L D, Kasson-Mantorville, and Mounds View high schools each won championships.
Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) arrived in Fort Myers over the weekend to start baseball activities at the team's minicamp, but if he progresses as Ryan expects, he won't have to wait long to get into game action with the Fort Myers Miracle.
"We're looking at probably another two days before he goes out and plays for Fort Myers," Ryan said. "Maybe Thursday. Then we'll see how he does. Just like (Trevor) Plouffe, I would anticipate he'll be on a rehab until we're certain he's ready to produce."
Ryan downplayed any notion that Ramirez wouldn't be reinstated to the big league roster once he's healthy and ready. "We're a little short on center fielders," he said.
Meanwhile, center fielder Aaron Hicks (hamstring) is progressing nicely, and has taken batting practice and fielded fly balls in the outfield. He also has done some agility drills.
"He's getting there," Ryan said. "It's a good sign. I'm kind of waiting for the trainers and doctors to tell me how close he is." Ryan said that Hicks is still not eligible to return from the DL for a week, so no definite decision has been made regarding if he'll need a rehab stint.
"If he has to go on one," Ryan said, "it would be for a little amount of time, I would think. I guess we'll have to see in the next two or three days."
* Josh Willingham (knee) was back in left field to start Tuesday's game, which caused Ryan to assume that the veteran responded well to his first cortisone shot ever. Willingham had the shot on Saturday night. "We wouldn't have put him out there if we didn't feel he was ready to go," Ryan said. Willingham was replaced in the ninth inning by Oswaldo Arcia, who shifted from right field when Chris Parmelee entered the game for defensive purposes
* Ryan provided a limited update on Double-A New Britain pitcher Alex Meyer (right shoulder), only saying that the organization will be very careful with him in order to avoid any setbacks. "I'm not going to put an ETA on him," Ryan said. "But he's going to start throwing here shortly. He played catch recently and feels pretty good." Ryan said the goal with Meyer is to build up his innings count. Meyer is about halfway to the 129 innings he threw all of last season. That's a number Ryan said he would prefer to see Meyer exceed this season.