MINNEAPOLIS -- Howie Kendrick has been an active player for a game on April 15 for each of the last seven seasons. But wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42, which all players do on the anniversary of Robinson's debut, hasn't gotten old.
In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
"Wearing '42' just reminds me that there were no blacks in baseball at one point, and what Jackie Robinson endured, all the threats, all the criticism he received from various sources, to still go out and play the game, give all of us an opportunity to play the game, it was a huge impact on baseball," said Kendrick, who plans to watch the movie "42" when the Angels return home from Minnesota.
"As a kid, I didn't really know a whole lot about Jackie Robinson, but the older I got, I really understood because I was really into baseball and I really understood what he did. Basically, he's the reason why I'm here."
Jackie Robinson Day is meant to pay homage to his trailblazing, Hall of Fame career.
Unfortunately, it's also a reminder of the dwindling number of African-American players involved in the game.
In hopes of combating that, Selig announced an 18-member task force on Wednesday to study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among black players. USA Today reported earlier that only 7.7 percent of those on Opening Day rosters this year were African-American, representing the lowest rate since 1959.
"I think the only way to fix it is for kids to become interested themselves," Kendrick said. "A lot of black kids see football and basketball on TV a lot. It's a lot cheaper to play those sports, whereas in baseball, you need a lot more equipment.
"It's a lot easier to make it in those sports than it is in baseball, too. You could come straight out of college one year and play [in basketball]; football you're in college for four years, you're a star there, you're going to get drafted, you're going to have an opportunity to play right away. Baseball molds you into a man by the time you get to the big leagues. It's a little tougher road than it is for the other sports."
Frigid weather on deck as Angels visit Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been four years since the Twins played under the roof of the Metrodome. Their home now is Target Field, a gorgeous, state-of-the-art ballpark, but also one with no roof, which makes baseball in April difficult and may threaten the three-game series the Angels are currently in town for.
The frigid weather, which caused a postponement of Sunday's game between the Twins and Mets, is expected to hold up on Monday -- even though game-time temperatures are slated for 38 degrees, with winds at 16 mph -- and Tuesday night's game is expected to also go on uninterrupted. But leading up to the series opener, weather reports showed a 60 percent chance of snow/rain for the night of Wednesday's series finale.
Both teams are off on Thursday, but there's a 60-percent chance of sleet then, too. And because year-long Interleague Play has teams making only one trip to cities not in their division, this is the only time the Angels will be in town this season.
In short, it could get interesting very soon.
"We're going to get through one pitch, one inning at a time, and see where everything leads," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously there's some snow in the forecast."
Callaspo expected to be out until at least Friday
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Angels are still holding out hope that Alberto Callaspo can avoid a stint on the disabled list, but his tight right calf has held him out of four straight games and is expected to keep him on the shelf until at least Friday.
Callaspo has been taking batting practice the last few days and fielded grounders for the first time prior to Monday's series opener against the Twins. But he's still unable to run.
"I feel a little better," Callaspo said in Spanish. "It's a little tight, but better."
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, currently doing some aqua-therapy in Arizona, has already been lost to the disabled list because of a left heel contusion, with Andrew Romine and Brendan Harris basically platooning at shortstop while he's out.
Callaspo's ailment has given Luis Jimenez, the sixth-ranked Angels' prospect, a chance to get some Major League time. He figures to get at least three more starts, including Monday's series opener at Target Field.
"We're going to hopefully be able to get him through this series to see how much he progresses, get through the off-day [on Thursday] and make a determination of how his calf is doing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Callaspo.
Wilson developing rapport with backup Conger
MINNEAPOLIS -- From 2008-12, C.J. Wilson threw to 14 different catchers. Sound like a lot? Count 'em: Adam Melhuse, Gerald Laird, Kevin Richardson, Ivan Rodriguez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez, Bengie Molina, Matt Treanor, Yorvit Torrealba, Taylor Teagarden, Mike Napoli, Bobby Wilson, John Hester and Chris Iannetta.
He may have a special connection with No. 15: Hank Conger.
It's nothing against Iannetta, who has established a good rapport with everyone on the staff and Wilson has no problems throwing with, but the left-hander feels like he's established a bond with his backup, even though the two haven't spent much time together.
"With Chris as the starter, I think he has a harder job," Wilson said. "Me, I have a very odd process. I think it's different from most starting pitchers. Hank catches me in bullpens, in between starts. And our personalities are very similar, at least in the locker room -- we're from the same city, we like the same stuff, we listen to the same music, we eat the same food."
How much that actually translates on the field is impossible to determine, but Wilson talked in spring about how well the two work together. And when Conger caught him in a regular-season game for the first time on Sunday, Wilson had his best outing, pitching six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Astros.
"I don't really know what it is," Wilson said of Conger," I just like throwing to him."
But asked if he'd consider pairing Conger with Wilson exclusively, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: "I don't think we're at that point."
Last year, stats showed Wilson worked best with Hester, who he posted a 2.80 ERA in 11 starts with. He had a 4.70 ERA in eight starts with Bobby Wilson and a 4.21 ERA in 15 starts with Iannetta.
"I like throwing to Chris, too, because I know he's really prepared, does a lot of video, and I feel like he has a little different takes on guys, especially guys I'm not familiar with," Wilson said. "At the end of the day, it's really up to the manager to determine who catches who and who doesn't catch. I just go out there and try to do the same thing anyway, which is call my own game and all that stuff. I don't think I'm at that status as a pitcher where I get to have a guy who just catches me."
• First-base coach Alfredo Griffin was away from the Angels on Monday, applying for U.S. citizenship. Griffin, a native of the Dominican Republic, is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday. Ty Boykin, a roving outfield/baserunning/bunting coordinator, took Griffin's place for the series opener against the Twins.
• Jered Weaver (broken left elbow) will probably stay away from activating his arm while the Angels are in Minnesota due to the frigid weather. Kevin Jepsen underwent baseline tests on his right triceps in Southern California on Monday. Jepsen, on the disabled list, won't be joining the Angels in Minnesota.
• Former Angels pitching prospect Chris Scholl, who posted a 3.33 ERA in 322 Minor League innings from 2008-12, has signed with the San Rafael Pacifics of independent ball.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.