Ryan joins in as Twins close first Caravan leg

Ryan joins in as Twins close first Caravan leg

DULUTH, Minn. -- The first week of the annual Twins Winter Caravan came to a close on Thursday night with general manager Terry Ryan joining one of the legs for an event in front of roughly 500 fans at the Sports Garden in Duluth.

Ryan joined manager Paul Molitor, top prospect Byron Buxton, reliever Casey Fien and broadcaster Dick Bremer at the group's 14th and final stop of the four-day caravan. Ryan answered questions from fans, with offseason moves a hot topic. The Twins acquired designated hitter Byung Ho Park and catcher John Ryan Murphy early in the offseason, but have yet to sign a reliever to a Major League deal.

"The draw is the players and the manager, but I think it's important someone from the front office is on these trips so we can be accountable," Ryan said. "People want to know about contracts and free agents and trades. So [assistant general manager] Rob [Antony] are on a few of these. So I think it's huge."

Ryan, though, said he's still not sure if he'll make any additional moves before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 21.

"I don't know yet," Ryan said. "We still have some things out there. There are still a lot of free agents still out there. And I expect that as we get closer to getting to Fort Myers, it'll thin out. But there are a few people out there we have interest in. But whether it's going to be a fit for both parties, we'll find out."

The caravan was a success, as it drew large crowds with fans excited to see and meet Molitor, Buxton and Fien. It featured stops in Minnesota cities such as Little Falls, Alexandria, Wadena, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Bagley, Brainerd, Aitkin, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Eveleth and Duluth.

"It was fun," Fien said. "The fans were awesome. They came out and supported us. And we got to meet some kids and share our stories. So it was a good run."

It was the first caravan for Buxton, who is ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com and was a major draw for the fans. It led to long autograph lines after the events, but Buxton said he enjoyed interacting with fans.

"Caravan, being my first one, was amazing," Buxton said. "I'm just glad I was able to come out and give back to the fans who support us all year long. Just meeting new faces is always good. We have 30,000 fans [at Target Field] every night, and you just have to give back that support they gave you during the season."

The other route featured right-handers Trevor May and Tyler Duffey, Twins legend Tony Oliva and broadcaster Cory Provus. It started in Bismarck, N.D., on Monday and ended with a night stop in St. Cloud, Minn., on Thursday.

Two more legs take off on Monday, with current and former Twins participating, including Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Murphy, Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins, Kyle Gibson, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Dan Gladden. It leads up to the annual Diamond Awards on Thursday night before TwinsFest begins on Friday at Target Field.

"As soon as you get to Caravan, it's downhill from there," Ryan said. "It's about time to get going."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.