Mike Berardino / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—Six weeks have passed since Jack Morris punched his ticket to baseball immortality. No, he doesn't have his induction speech finished yet. "I'll probably rewrite it 10 times," said the St. Paul native and Highland Park High School product.
MINNEAPOLIS—In case there was any doubt, Twins owner Jim Pohlad made it clear Saturday, Jan. 20, his team remains very interested in signing free agent Yu Darvish or acquiring another of the remaining starting pitchers that could move the meter. "Yes, I'm totally on board with that," Pohlad said during a fan forum at TwinsFest. "There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there. I'm as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody."
MINNEAPOLIS — All-star right-hander Ervin Santana may be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, but the Twins' Opening Day starter would gladly cede those duties to a high-profile acquisition. "I'd be happy," Santana said at TwinsFest. "I would be more than happy. That means our pitching staff is getting better. I'm going to be happy because we're going to have another great pitcher in our rotation." Santana, who had never fronted a staff until joining the Twins, pointed out he had to wait until 2016 for the chance to start an opener.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Twins' streak of avoiding salary arbitration hearings since losing back-to-back years, 2005-06, to right-hander Kyle Lohse is expected to end next month. A dearth of suitable salary comparisons for righty Kyle Gibson will push the Twins toward a hearing in Arizona, where assistant GM Rob Antony will be among those representing the team. While the Twins submitted a figure of $4.2 million at last week's deadline, Gibson and his agent, Randy Rowley, countered at $4.55 million.
MINNEAPOLIS—On the bright, sunny day when he formally retired and rejoined the Minnesota Twins as a special assistant in their front office, Justin Morneau spoke eloquently and at some length about gratitude and humility and family and how it "takes a village" to raise a big leaguer. He remembered honing his left-handed swing in wiffleball games with his boyhood buddies back in New Westminster, British Columbia, and trying to clear the evergreen trees in his back yard — "our Green Monster."
MINNEAPOLIS—Much has changed since the last time the Portland Trail Blazers visited Target Center nearly a month ago. On Sunday night, Jan. 14, a 120-103 blowout in the rematch gave the Minnesota Timberwolves 12 wins in their past 15 games, including that comeback win from a 10-point hole in the final seven minutes against Portland on Dec. 18. Yet there was no cosmic click that took place that night, coach Tom Thibodeau insisted, even as the laughers have piled up for his first-place team.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins closer Fernando Rodney is due to appear next weekend at TwinsFest. Considering his shaky performance in the Dominican Winter League, he must be looking forward to the warm embrace of his new fan base. Wednesday, Jan., 10, marked Rodney's fourth outing for Escogido in the round-robin playoffs. Just one of those appearances has been scoreless, leaving Rodney with a 15.00 earned-run average, six walks and four hits allowed through three innings.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are hopeful of a resolution before spring training opens next month in Major League Baseball's investigation of allegations against third baseman Miguel Sano. "Right now Major League Baseball is conducting their investigation," Twins general manager Thad Levine said Thursday, Jan. 11, during an appearance on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. "We've been asked to kind of stand down and allow that process to unfold. We're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When Fernando Rodney visited Target Field with the Arizona Diamondbacks last August, the veteran closer made sure to chat with Twins pitcher/marvel Bartolo Colon. Rodney, four years younger than his Dominican Republic countryman, had a question for Colon. "I asked him, 'Hey, how long are you going to be here?' I look young in front of you," Rodney said with a laugh during a teleconference on Friday, Dec. 15. "He said, 'I don't know, Rodney. I feel good. I think I know how to pitch. I know how to get outs.'"
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Twins manager Paul Molitor has yet to make one of his many recruiting calls to free-agent pitching ace Yu Darvish, but he did acknowledge the team's "tremendous interest" in the Japanese star. "It's going to be a tremendous get for whoever has the opportunity to get his name on a contract," Molitor said Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, at baseball's winter meetings. "He's still out there. We'll see what happens."