DETROIT — The tired words Phil Hughes lucidly and sincerely uttered after his untimely and untenable exit from the seventh inning of the Twins’ latest palm-to-the-forehead meltdown strained credulity. “It’s almost like I’m cheating death at that point, so they decided to go to the pen, which I had no issue with considering everything that we knew,” Hughes told the world Tuesday night. “Obviously, hindsight’s a different story.”
NEW YORK — The Minnesota Timberwolves have the last two No. 1 picks on their roster, but they ended up with the fifth pick overall after Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery drawing in New York. Wolves rookie of the year Karl-Anthony Towns, last year’s top pick, was in attendance, hoping to get lucky by wearing a wedding ring of late Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who died of cancer last year before the season.
DETROIT — The Twins’ starting rotation remained a revolving door Tuesday after rookie right-hander Jose Berrios was banished to Triple-A Rochester, Pat Dean claimed the open spot and Taylor Rogers arrived to relieve an overtaxed bullpen. Dean’s steady 7⅓ innings of mop-up work behind Berrios’ messy start Monday night against the Tigers earned the left-hander Saturday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field.
MINNEAPOLIS — Maybe everyone should hold off on the Phoenix title talk. The Mercury won the 2014 WNBA title and advanced to the Western Conference finals last year even without star guard Diana Taurasi, who sat out the season at the request of her Russian Premier League team. With Taurasi back in the saddle this season, 58 percent of the league’s general managers selected the Mercury to win the 2016 championship.
We are the offseason champions of the world! Again. Minnesota teams may not perform well during their respective seasons. In fact, the Twin Cities has acquired a rather gloomy sports reputation. That’s because people don’t understand. It’s when play stops that the entertainment begins around here. And this has been a particularly fantastic off-season.
MINNEAPOLIS — ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper called Kentrell Brothers a “total steal” in last month’s NFL draft, and the 22-year-old middle linebacker agrees. Brothers, projected by some to go as early as the second round, fell to the Vikings in the fifth.
The University of Minnesota has finally hired an athletics director, but we’re not done with Norwood Teague quite yet. The first order of business for Mark Coyle will be to hold his nose and trigger a buyout on Richard Pitino’s contract that currently sits at $5.7 million. Gophers fans can thank Teague for that parting gift.
By Marcus R. Fuller St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS — Mark Coyle’s introduction as the University of Minnesota’s new athletics director came with tears Wednesday. Not because of what he has in front of him, which will be as exciting as challenging for him. Coyle, who was Syracuse’s AD for only 11 months, got choked up — almost immediately — about an experience he had when Goldy Gopher, the Minnesota athletics program’s mascot, came to his then-3-year-old daughter Gracie’s birthday party while he worked for the U more than a decade ago.
Never went to law school or learned to speak football Latin but I know how to furrow my brow, take notes and avoid eye contact, which allowed me to pass Mike Zimmer’s film class Wednesday at Winter Park. With a wad of dip in his cheek and a twinkle in his eye, the Vikings’ old ball coach was in his glory, breaking down Minnesota’s defense in machine-gun cadence and calling on glassy-eyed media grunts to identify formations.
ST. PAUL — Two and a half weeks after the conclusion of an underwhelming, disappointing season, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher proudly introduced Bruce Boudreau as the team’s new head coach on Tuesday, the most optimistic day of an offseason still in its infancy. It was an easy decision for Fletcher, whose team struggled to make the playoffs and didn’t last long once they got there. Boudreau, whose .659 winning percentage leads all active NHL coaches, was widely viewed as the best bench boss available.