All Access: Kevin Love Visits Target Field
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Kevin Love admits his baseball days are long in his past. They’ve been that way since he gave up the sport after his freshman year of high school in order to pursue his basketball goals.
But if only for a day, his baseball career was revived Wednesday at Target Field prior to the Minnesota Twins’ matchup with the New York Yankees. Love spent time in the clubhouse, took some batting practice cuts in the cage below the concourse and threw out the first pitch prior to the game’s 12:10 p.m. start.
[Related Content: Kevin Love's day at Target Field in Pictures]
Decked from head to toe in Twins gear, including an authentic Kevin Love No. 42 jersey handed to him by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Love spent time meeting with people throughout the Twins organization. He played catch with a ball boy, shook hands with Kent Hrbek and took cuts in the batting cage next to Joe Mauer.
“Just being able to interact with the guys; I was over in the Olympics where everyone was playing their respective sports, so just being out there and being able to interact with the coaches and players, it’s a lot of fun,” Love said. “I support them. I support all teams in the Twin Cities, and I know they support us, too. That’s what makes it the best.”
Gardenhire stood behind the back-wall netting while Love took soft toss and live-arm batting practice, then upped the difficulty by taking on the pitching machine.
From there, he made his way out to the playing field, where he played catch in the outfield as well as trying out some warm-up pitches on the warning track.
He was one of three people throwing out Wednesday’s first pitch. Another participant, Sgt. Michael Beelow of the Army National Guard, was on hand with other members of the armed forces and was able to meet Love prior to the event.
Beelow, of Janesville, said it was a cool experience being able to meet Love and get to be part of the pregame festivities.
“It’s pretty cool. You watch it on TV as a little kid and all that, and you never think you’ll be able to do that,” Beelow said of throwing out the first pitch. “So it’s a once in a lifetime deal. It’s pretty neat.”
Love joked prior to the pitch he was contemplating digging deep into his mechanics, possibly tossing a curve or a knuckleball, but he went with a straight fastball. Throwing to first baseman Justin Morneau, Love said he was disappointed he missed the strike zone.
“It was a little bit outside, I was a little upset with myself,” Love said. “Bt it was Justin down there. He’s my guy, so it was all good.”
Just before he headed to the batting cages earlier in the day, Gardenhire extended a special invitation to come back to Target Field on Friday and partake in a few more activities. He invited him to take batting practice out on the field and shag fly balls while the Twins did their own batting practice.
No question, Love enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with the Twins and the offer to come back.
“They gave me a pass to come back to actually come back on the field and take BP,” Love said. “But this is a little bigger stage out here than in the cage, so we’ll see.”