Opening Day: new season, old friends

The big day is here, and it’s always something special. I can’t even describe what the adrenaline rush is like on Opening Day. It’s my 12th Opening Day, and the butterflies will be there as always. Once the game starts, though, it’s back to doing what we do. It’s a thrill to take the field and get another season going.

We’re meeting my old team, the Twins, to get it started for the second time in my three years with the Angels. Everyone knows how it all started for me in Minnesota, so this is special.

The truth is, I’m looking forward to this one a lot more than the opener at the Metrodome in 2008. That series went four games and was hard on me emotionally, mentally and even physically, being on artificial turf.

Opening Day at the Metrdome, my first game in an Angels uniform, that was really rough on me. I was kind of in a daze, running around trying to see so many people who meant so much to me for such a big part of my life. I knew everybody there, from the janitors to the vendors.

My nerves were shot before the game even started. I didn’t play very well and we lost, but it was just one game. As the series went on, I started feeling better and playing better. I hit a home run, got a few hits and we came out of it all right. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad it was over.

This time it’s all different. The Twins are coming to our house, to my place. It’ll be good to see all those guys again, from Ron Gardenhire and Joe Mauer through the ranks. That’s always been a great organization, and I was proud to be a Twin from June 3, 1993 to the end of 2007.

It’s a new era with the Twins. They showed that when they stepped up and did what it took to keep Joe. They showed they didn’t want to be a small-market team anymore. They’ve got their new ballpark, and a whole new era. It’s great to see.

Guys like myself and Johan Santana, we were there at the wrong time. They couldn’t keep us, but I know it means the world to those great fans that they signed Joe, their hometown guy, to that eight-year deal. I was really happy to see that.

It’s going to be exciting for those guys to come to our turf. It’ll be cool to see Gardy, Jerry White, all those guys who taught me so much.

I’ll also get to see some guys I helped raise as players. Denard Span, who’s taking my old spot, is my protégé. He came to stay with me in Texas, in my house. I talked to him about everything, from finances to family to the game.

Gardy was one of the first guys I met when I signed with the Twins out of high school in Pine Bluff, Ark. I was 17 when I signed. We met in Spring Training in 1994. He was the third-base coach then, and he was so cool to me. I’ll always remember that.

Gardenhire reminds me of Mike Scioscia in some ways. Both those guys are really into the game, always studying the game. I don’t know if Gardy has changed any – I seriously doubt it — but when I was there, he was a players’ manager. He was always joking with the players, staying close to us. Guys loved playing for him.

I’ve been lucky to spend almost my whole career playing for two of the best managers in the game. We’re going to do everything we can to take Mike back to the World Series this season. It’s a long process, but everything starts with that first step, that first game. Let’s get it going.

 

 

8 Comments

Torii, Twins fans still LOVE you. I wish the Jim Pohlad era had begun earlier so that you could have remained a Twin. It makes me very happy to read about your continued warm feelings toward the Twins. You are a class act all the way.

Hi Torii-

I’m here in Minnesota and it’s still strange to watch you play in an Angels uniform. My dad (baseball fan of 50 years and your personal fan of 11 years) and I were just talking about how much we miss you! It’s great to see you play and I can’t wait for an Angels game at Target Field. Thanks for all the great years!

Your fan, (no matter what team you play for)
Kari

Torii, It was nice to watch you play ball again. Wish you were still with Minnesota but I can tell you are happy where you are now. All four games were fun to watch!
I am so excited to watch you play at Target Field in August! To see you in person will be so AWESOME! I will be there for the series for sure.
Keep up the great work you are a awesome player where ever you play. Best of Luck with the baseball season.
Your #1 Fan.
Hayley from Minnesota

Torii went to the game on friday night against the A’s. How are you? You looked much to serious. Are you hurting? What is going on amongst the players. Seems like the nerves are flarring up all around. You are a good team and can play excellant baseball. I will keep the faith that one day it will all turn around. Good Luck!!

Hey Torii I Love the Angels… I WAS soo excited for baseball season to start we even bought tickets to about 7 games, but I gotta tell you right now im so disapointed in the whole team! Pitching is bad, hitting is worst. Whats going on? and whats even more sad is that there are A LOT of men being stranded on bases. Right now im watching you guys against the Yankees (4-13-10) and it looks really bad so far 7 men stranded on bases! Were is the clutch… Im not even excited about going to next weeks game at anaheim. Hope tomorrows game go’s better for you guys….

Torii-

We can’t wait for your visit to MN later this season. It won’t be but a couple more years and you’ll be back home in a Twins uniform, playing for the team and the fans who will end up enshrining you at Target Field. Play well this year, TH – We’re still rooting for you :)

It’s always great to watch you play and do what you do best! It was hard for me when you left the Twins, mostly because I placed you up there with Kirby as the 2nd greatest Twins centerfielder that would be there until the end, but now it’s great to see you doing well and the Twins still competing. I hope the Halos take the West! See you at Target Field!

You’re STILL one of my fav players man! You play the game the right way. I still remember when you robbed Bonds of a HR in the AS game. Vintage Torii.

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