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Twins reliever Curtiss brings singing talents to the field

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher John Curtiss delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field on April 30, 2018. Curtiss recently showed off his singing skills at a game in Rochester. Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON—Twins reliever John Curtiss checked off a bucket-list item on Sunday when he performed the national anthem before Triple-A Rochester's penultimate game of the season.

Curtiss, a country-music songwriter who plays guitar and sings in a rich baritone, made it through the song in 68 seconds without a single mistake. The only blip was feedback during rehearsals that left his guitar without amplification.

"There was a good cheat sheet on the board, but I didn't need it," Curtiss, 25, said after being called up as part of September roster expansion. "I looked, just at the first verse, right at the very beginning. I was scared I wasn't going to get to 'gleaming.' I was relieved afterwards."

Red Wings teammates were making bets on how many times Curtiss' voice would crack or how many words he'd mangle. Fellow reliever Jake Reed helped him rehearse in the bullpen in the weeks leading up to Sunday, but Reed refused an invitation to perform as a duo.

"Jake was not willing to do it at all, which is funny because he's got a beautiful voice," Curtiss said. "I have a tolerable voice, but he can sing in multiple registers. He sounds beautiful when he sings, and he said he just didn't feel like doing it."

Curtiss, who posted a 2.77 earned run average and 10 saves in 55 1/3 Triple-A innings, shook his head when asked if he'd be willing to sing the anthem at Target Field.

"I've sung my last anthem," he said. "I'm retired. One and done."

Berrios switches agencies

Budding Twins ace Jose Berrios, finishing up an all-star season that could see him top 200 innings for the first time, has changed agencies.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who is still a full season away from his first crack at salary arbitration, has hired Wasserman Media Group to replace Melvin Roman of MDR Sports Management. Nick Chanock will handle Berrios, but Wasserman's long list of prominent clients include two free agents the Twins pursued last offseason: reliever Addison Reed (who signed) and starter Yu Darvish (who didn't).

Berrios, who could be an extension candidate this offseason, asked Reed on Monday about Wasserman. The veteran reliever didn't mince words, saying he considers agent Lenny Strelitz "like a second dad."

"I told him they've helped me tremendously," said Reed, who has known Strelitz since for nearly a dozen years. "I told him, 'You say yes to them, you're not going to regret anything.' They've done everything that I could have ever asked for—times 40."

Mauer honored

First baseman Joe Mauer is the Twins' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which goes annually to the player who "best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field."

Mauer, who has been nominated before, has raised more than $1 million for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare over the past four years through the Mauer and Friends Kids Classic luncheon. Mauer also hosts a bowling fundraiser for the Highland Friendship Club and has supported Friends of St. Paul Baseball, among other community initiatives.

"It's humbling to be recognized," Mauer said. "It's awesome. It's good to show support for fans. They support us on the field. Obviously, growing up there, it makes it even more special for me."

Three Twins have won the award since it was instituted in 1971 upon Clemente's death: Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett (1996).

Briefly

Mauer and Twins third-base coach Gene Glynn chatted and posed for pictures before the game with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jonathan Cain of Journey and other members of the band's entourage. Journey played Target Field back on July 27 while the Twins were in Boston, and Cain told Mauer the "fans were killer" at their Twin Cities show.

Left fielder Eddie Rosario (right quad) did more light running and took swings in the cage. Barring any setbacks, he should hit on the field before Wednesday's game and could test his leg by running the bases as soon as Friday back home.

Catcher Jason Castro, who makes his offseason home in Houston, has been in uniform and in the dugout during games this week against his former team as he works back from knee surgery in early May.