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Minnesota Twins players conduct youth clinic in North Fort Myers

February 6, 2018
By CHUCK?BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

North Fort Myers Babe Ruth athletes tricked out for picture day got to break in those new jerseys in a big way Saturday when the Minnesota Twins fielded their annual youth clinic at the North Fort Myers Community Park.

Every year, the Twins hold clinics at Little League and Babe Ruth fields throughout Southwest Florida, teaching players between the ages of 5 and 13 the fundamentals of hitting, pitching the fielding.

"The kids are always excited to see the pros come out, and get a ball and signature. It's the love of the game on their minds," said Jason Estes, league president.

Article Photos


Cayden Copsey takes a cut at a soft toss thrown by Twins’ outfielder Lamonte Wade at the Minnesota Twins baseball clinic at North Fort Myers Community Park on Saturday.

Mark Weber, manager of Florida Business Operations for the team, said coaches and numerous young prospects come to teach the kids how to play like a pro in a way that's fun and age appropriate.

"The biggest thing we want to do is give the kids the opportunity to have fun with baseball. It should be fun, but also learn from our guys how to grip a ball, how to field and hold a bat," Weber said. "We want to get kids playing baseball and it's a grass-roots program."

Stu Cliburn, former big leaguer and pitching coach for Rochester, the Twins top farm club, again headed up the event. Tommy Watkins, who played for the Miracle before going to the show, is now manager for the team's AA team in Chattanooga and could not attend this season due to another commitment this year.

"We always like to jump start our season in Fort Myers by going to camps around the area. We try to teach them the fundamentals and hope they take something out of this that will help their game," Cliburn said.

One of the prospects, Lamonte Wade, who plays in AA, worked with the children with hitting, soft tossing balls and letting the kids swing away.

"The kids have a lot of fun and so do we. We like to give back to the community, do something productive," Wade said. "You don't want to overwhelm them with too much information. Give them the basics and hope they learn something."

The Babe Ruthers got a lot out of the clinic. They were separated according to age and rotated among hitting, fielding and pitching stations. When finished, they each got a baseball they got signed by all the players and coaches.

Hunter Garrison, a 10U All-Star last season said he learned a lot.

"I would totally come back tomorrow. They taught me everything. My batting stance is better, my fielding and my pitching," Garrison said.

Kevin Salas, 11, said he learned to grip the four-seam and two-seam fastball and the change-up.

"I thought it was cool to learn from the pros. I did the Red Sox clinic at Jet Blue Park," Salas said. "I have to work on my batting."

All of this was the lead-up to Opening Day on Saturday, which promises to be the best yet.

The event starts at 9 a.m. and will feature baseball comedian Domingo "Beisbol" Ayala and Flyin' Brian from The Beat 105.5 FM. That will be followed by regular season action all day long.



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