FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three large plastic tubs full of household supplies sit in Brian and Lisa Duensing's garage all winter long, just waiting for that time when Opening Day comes around again.A few days before the Twins officially broke camp in Fort Myers, Fla., Lisa Duensing flew back home to Omaha, Neb., to pack up the couple's truck -- which included those three tubs -- and then made the nearly six-hour drive to the Twin Cities to set up the couple's in-season home. While the Twins made their final preparations for the regular season on the playing field in Fort Myers, there are many things that must take place behind the scenes. Those are equally important in getting the players ready for another year of baseball. For the wives of the players on the Twins' 25-man roster, Opening Day means shifting life back to the place they call home during the season and pretty much getting things settled on their own.
"I try to get everything set up for when Brian gets there because it's not like he has time to settle in," Lisa Duensing said. "All of a sudden it has to be his home for the next six months, and the team has to play the next day in Minneapolis. So there really isn't much time for him to do that."The Twins began this season on the road, so there is a little more time for some of the wives to get things settled. Claudia Cuddyer has been through the process of getting ready for the season a number of times. Her husband, Michael Cuddyer, is currently the Twins' longest-tenured player. The Cuddyers spend their offseason in Virginia and have a 2-year-old son named Casey. This year, with the club opening the regular season in Toronto and then New York, Claudia brought along Casey to Atlanta for the two exhibition games at Turner Field before heading back to Virginia to get things ready for their place in Minneapolis. "For us, we're pretty lucky because we rent a place year round," Claudia Cuddyer said. "A lot of families have to arrange for housing and figure out how they are going to get all their stuff shipped and furniture delivered and utilities set up. And we've definitely been there, done that. You also have to do that from a distance, as a lot of people end up going up there [to Minnesota] before their husbands and have kids in tow."
For Lisa Duensing, the process was made easier last year and again this spring because her husband's spot on the pitching staff is secured. Two years ago, Lisa was in Omaha on the final day of Major League camp and was awaiting word on whether Brian had made the team or not.She had the car packed up early that Saturday morning, ready to head to Minnesota since the team plane was scheduled to arrive that night. Lisa wanted to be there with all of their home supplies if Brian was on that plane. Since she wasn't sure when he would learn if he'd made the team or would be heading across the parking lot to Minor League camp, she was prepared to start the six-hour drive without knowing the answer and facing the possibility of having to turn around to go back home in the middle of her car trip. "That was nerve wracking because I didn't want to be three hours into my trip and then have to turn back around," Lisa Duensing said. "Luckily they told him first thing in the morning that he was headed with the team. So I didn't have any questions during my drive." So there are certainly many things that face Twins players' wives, but the one thing that is certain is that the wives stick together and help each other out throughout the year. "There are only a few girls that are from Minnesota or have family there, so most of us have no family or close-knit circles like we do back home, so really we're like family," Claudia Cuddyer said. "So we have a big e-mail group list going that gives out suggestions with places to live and things like that. So we rely on each other, and you really need that."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Kelly Thesier contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.