Twins players are eager to begin MLB’s new balanced schedule

Much has been made about the new rules changes and the affect they’ll have on the game moving forward. But it’s not just the rules that are changing this year. Beginning this spring, Major League Baseball has introduced a balanced schedule in all 30 teams will play one another.

“I think it should have always been that way,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “Some divisions are tougher than other ones, and if you have everyone playing everyone, then it evens out a little more. So, yeah, I like it.”

For the Twins, that means more games against National League opponents and fewer against American League Central rivals Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox. Instead of playing 19 division games against each opponents, the Twins will play those four teams 13 times each.

Only AL Central finished last season above .500, the Guardians, which means the Twins’ scheduled might be getting more difficult.

“I think every year there’s a lot been made of maybe certain divisions feeling like they’re better off with this than others,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We feel there’s a lot of competition in our division, so our view is we’ve got to go play good teams that are on the schedule and go play as best we can.”

It’s something Falvey said he welcomes now — “the baseball fan in me likes to see other teams,” he said — but wouldn’t have a couple of years ago when the National League was not yet playing with a designated hitter.

A weird quirk of the Twins schedule this year has them playing only six division games — three against Cleveland, three against Chicago — during the final month of the season. With fewer games against divisional rivals, each one takes on even greater importance.

The Twins will play 52 divisional games. They’ll play 64 intraleague games — 32 at home, 32 on the road — against other American League teams. And they’ll play 46 games against the National League, up from 20 last year.

“When you play the same … four teams 19 times each, there’s not that much new to prepare for. You’re just basically going out there battling it out,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Everyone’s very familiar with everyone else, and now you’re going out there a little bit more on your toes. You have to be a little bit more aware and you have to pay attention and … adjust on the fly.”

The addition of more interleague games means fans around the country will get to see, in person, players who they don’t often have an opportunity to watch. Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor are among the National League stars that will make their way to Target Field this season.

And that’s fun for players, too.

“More than anything, I’ve just thought about being able to check out some new cities and see some ballparks I haven’t played at,” starter Joe Ryan said. “Facing guys around the league, I think that’ll be really exciting — a lot of guys you see on TV that you just don’t really get to face. So, it’ll be cool to hopefully line up some starts against some new competition.”

Correa, who once did a showcase at Wrigley Field before being drafted, is excited to play at the Cubs’ Friendly Confines. It won’t be this year, though, as the Cubs travel to Minneapolis in May. Next year, the Twins will be at Wrigley for the first time since 2021.

“If you play two years, you’re going to go to every single place. That’s pretty cool,” catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “You get to see different cities, you get to see different stadiums, just travel. It’s kind of a cool part of the gig that we have and going everywhere is cool.”

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