Minnesota Twins not expecting fans for season opener

60 game MLB season set to begin July 23 or 24

The Morning News with Dave Lee
June 24, 2020 - 9:29 am

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and the rest of Twins Territory took a collective sigh of relief Tuesday evening as more details emerged about a 60 game MLB season after almost every route back to playing baseball in 2020 appeared to be dead in the water.

"We're excited," St. Peter told WCCO's Dave Lee on Wednesday. "The good news is I think we got to a place where we'll move forward with a 60 game season. I expect we will see a schedule in the next couple of days."

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Twins players will likely report to Target Field in Minneapolis either July 1 or 2 to begin a modified Spring Training. From there, Opening Day would happen either July 23 or 24.

Whenever baseball finally returns to Target Field, it will likely be in a much quieter setting due to COVID-19 guidelines for fans.

"We're gonna open the season with no fans. I think that's safe to say. In late July we don't expect clearance to have fans" St. Peter said. "We are in conversation with Governor Tim Walz's office and the Minnesota Department of Health about how those plans could evolve and how I expect they will evolve so we can institute fans into the mix at some point at Target Field."

St. Peter told Lee that when fans finally do get the go-ahead to return, season ticket holders will get priority when it comes to spacing and other limitations caused by the pandemic.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm with the University of Minnesota spoke to Dave Lee on Wednesday as well about the possibility of fans returning to MLB ballparks and other sporting events. It's an issue, according to Dr. Osterholm, that doesn't have a clear-cut answer.

"At this point it's a one to call [whether or not the fans come back> what kind of plans they can have," Osterholm said. "I wouldn't absolutely say no, if there's creative ways to do that. It's going to be tough. It's going to be real tough."

Osterholm pointed out that an even bigger challenge will be to protect players, coaches, and trainers who are at higher risk of having COVID-19 complications.

"Many of them are older and may have risk factors for sever disease as opposed to the younger players," he said. "We're seeing more outbreaks among teams who have come together in recent weeks and I think at this point it's just a tough one to call."

The MLB season will look a little different with 60 games. The Twins will face the usual American League Central opponents, but they will also add opponents from the National League Central including the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, and of course, the Milwaukee Brewers.

"That's all built around a concept to limit travel and player in a more regional bubble," St. Peter said. 

The Twins are coming of a 1st place finish in the 2019 AL Central. A playoff sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees in the Division Series dashed the Twins' World Series hopes.

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