Twins rookie Martin has the best commute on the team

Austin Martin heard the sales pitch for his new home — "Something like, 'You won't believe the great view you'll have of Target Field,'" the Twins rookie said — but it didn't sway him. "I thought, 'I guarantee the view I'll have will be better than yours,'" Martin said.

But the commute to work — it's roughly 75 feet from the front door to the ballpark — was too tempting to pass up, Martin decided. He rented a two-bedroom apartment at North Loop Green, becoming the first Twins player to live in the brand-new building that looms over left field.

"The place I stayed in last year, it filled up. No availability," Martin said. "Someone at spring training mentioned the new building. It's pretty convenient, nice amenities, everything new. I figured, might as well hang."

The 38-floor building, which has no connection to the Twins other than its proximity, has risen over the past two summers, with cranes visible from the ballpark throughout last season. Martin said the interior of the building is as impressive as the exterior.

"It's great. The amenities are perfect. I mean, it's brand new. There's a golf simulator, some areas for working, even an espresso machine," Martin said. "What sold me and my girlfriend on it — they have a one-acre dog park below the building. So that'll be perfect for our dog."

Martin had expected to start the season in St. Paul, but he was called up to make his major-league debut before the Triple-A season could start after Royce Lewis suffered a quad injury on Opening Day.

"So I haven't really had a chance to walk around or get acclimated yet," Martin said. "But I know I'll never get lost going to work."

Closing off the top

Target Field itself will look a little different beginning Monday. For the remaining 10 home games in April, no fans will be sitting above the suite level.

That's because the Twins decided last fall to close the upper deck in foul territory during the season's first month (other than the first series), when chilly weather normally reduces attendance.

"We analyzed our April attendance, and we made the collective decision that we could deliver a better overall experience by moving the fans who sit in the terrace level and upgrade their seats," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "Hopefully it will create more of a home-field advantage, too, by packing the lower deck."

It also allows the team to close concession stands that get little business early in the season.

It's just an experiment, St. Peter said, and the policy could change if demand for seats rises unexpectedly. But the stadium, with a listed capacity of 39,504, has played host to more than 30,000 fans for an April game other than the home opener only once in the past decade.

The team didn't sell any single-game upper-deck seats for this month's home games with the Dodgers, Tigers and White Sox, and contacted their roughly 1,000 customers who purchase season tickets on the terrace level to reseat them in the lower bowl.

"We worked with them individually. Some were frustrated by moving, but they understood what we're trying to do," St. Peter said. "And we felt like we can deliver them a better experience. That's the goal."


• Caleb Thielbar threw a batting practice to Manuel Margot and Martin on Saturday, and "he looked great," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Twenty pitches, exactly what we were hoping for. He was in and around the strike zone." The lefthanded reliever, who didn't pitch in a game during spring training due to a hamstring injury, will be sent on a rehab assignment with the Class AAA Saints before he is activated, Baldelli said.

• Brent Headrick struck out seven in five innings and combined with three relievers for a four-hit shutout as the Saints beat host Nashville 3-0. Yoyner Fajardo and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. homered for the Saints.