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KANSAS CITY, MO. – Now that the regular season has begun, Twins players can look forward to receiving their first paychecks, from the $171,123 that Carlos Correa earns every day of the 187-day major league season to the $3,957 per day that Austin Martin makes.

That latter figure, comparatively paltry next to a superstar's wages, represents a raise for the Twins' least experienced players. Major League Baseball's minimum salary, which most players earn during their rookie season (and usually just marginally more until they accumulate three full seasons in the majors), rose by $20,000 this year to $740,000 per season.

But as a half-dozen young Twins can attest, there's an opportunity to make significantly more.

"The bonus pool is a great program for those of us just starting out," pitcher Bailey Ober said of a new feature in the players' collective bargaining agreement that is aimed at better compensating players who don't yet have seniority in the game. "It was a great Christmas gift."

For Ober, that "gift" was a check for $432,752, minus taxes, which was deposited in his bank account a few days before the holiday. It was his share of a $50 million fund that MLB agreed to distribute each year to the top 100 players who haven't yet earned salary-arbitration rights.

The fund is divided using a complicated formula that measures each player's contribution to his team. Seattle's Julio Rodriguez received the largest share last season, more than $1.8 million, but six Twins — Ober, Edouard Julien, Joe Ryan, Royce Lewis, Ryan Jeffers and Jhoan Duran — also received bonuses averaging about $350,000 each. Ober's bonus was the largest on his team but just 34th in MLB.

"The game has gone so young, it's good to get younger guys paid a little more," said Jeffers, who received an extra $300,304.

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Lewis said he was confused at first by his check for $341,190, believing it was for making the playoffs. "I thought, wow, that's a lot, and we only made the DS [Division Series]," Lewis said. "But no, that's not what this is."

Ober said his money went into home renovations, while his teammates didn't have any special purchases they intended to make with the money. All were updated by the players association or their agents during the year about their eligibility, but "I didn't really pay much attention to it. I was focused on playing," Lewis said.

Then again, he was informed in mid-August that he ranked 98th among those eligible, barely qualifying for an extra payment.

"That was right before the grand slam streak," in which Lewis hit four grand slams in an 18-day period, he said. "I don't think it was extra incentive, but it was cool to know I climbed higher up the list because of it."

'Just waking ourselves up'

Ninety minutes before first pitch Sunday, the Twins took their positions on the Kauffman Stadium field and practiced catching grounders and fly balls. One day earlier, they took a round of batting practice before the 3:10 p.m. start.

Those are drills that wouldn't have taken place a year ago. The Twins rarely took batting practice before day games and never did on a travel day.

But after going 34-35 in day games last year and averaging 4.2 runs — as opposed to a 53-40 record and scoring 5.2 runs at night — "we're going to do it more, that's for sure," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Just waking ourselves up a little bit, getting outside, stretching as a team, playing catch, that's a lot more than we've ever done before. We're trying to make an adjustment that we think has a chance to help us."

The Twins heard from a sleep specialist during spring training, with the same goal: Make the players better ready for early starts. They have 66 day games scheduled this year.

"I think it's huge. We weren't very good in day games, so we're trying something new," infielder Kyle Farmer said. "Usually in a 12 o'clock game, you don't really wake up until the second at-bat. The first, you're still kind of in a daze."

Kepler remains out

Max Kepler was out of the lineup for a second day Sunday, still recovering from hitting a ball off his right knee in Thursday's opener.

"He just couldn't run. If he could play today, he would be out there," Baldelli said. The Twins have Monday off before opening a two-game series at Milwaukee, and "if he's not able to play there, we're going to have to talk about an [injured list] stint."

Saints win in extras

Yoyner Fajardo's two-run single in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted the Saints to a 5-4 victory over Columbus at CHS Field in St. Paul.

After Columbus took a 3-2 lead in the top of 10th, the Saints tied it on a sacrifice fly by Jose Miranda. The Clippers took a 4-3 lead in 11th on Juan Brito's single.

The Saints forced extra innings on Alex Isola's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.

The Saints (2-0) are idle Monday before starting a six-game series at Nashville on Tuesday.