Chatted with Tom Kelly before the game tonight. He told me he has no plans to become a full-time broadcaster. He considers himself a temporary substitute for Bert Blyleven and not a candidate for future openings.

``No, no, no,'' he said. ``I'm going to do this game, and then I'm going to do two more in Kansas City. I don't think, with the traveling and all of that stuff, I don't think I need that anymore.

``I understand Bert’s doing some things regarding the Hall of Fame and needs a few days. I was hopeful that guys like Timmy (Laudner) and Ronnie Coomer and Roy (Smalley) would do more games. Why they want me to do it, I'm not sure.

``I'd like to see those people do it. I think they handle themselves very well. They're very knowledgable.''

Agreed. But Kelly has been excellent in the booth, not only for his knowledge but for his willingness to criticize players. I hope FSN at least keeps Mr. Kelly in the mix.

-I'm hearing that Sam Mitchell may pass the field to become the Wolves' next coach. He's a strong-willed guy who elicits strong reactions. I know people in town who love the guy, and I know people in town who don't want him setting foot in town.

What would be fascinating about Mitchell coaching the Wolves is that he is not the kind of guy who's going to kiss up to David Kahn. And while Kurt Rambis tired of Kahn, Mitchell might throw Kahn through a window.

In other words, I hope Mitchell gets the job.

Seriously, I think Kahn is at least positioned to make a decent hire. Now that Rick Adelman is treating the Wolves like the drunken uncle he only talks to after five beers at the family picnic, Mike Woodson is the safest pick. But I think Mitchell's ties to Glen Taylor and the Wolves might land him the job.

-We had another discussion with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire about Joe Mauer's ``position flexibility'' (I offer that for the millions of you who miss Brad Childress' phraseology).

Gardenhire said Mauer has started to realize that playing another position keeps him in the lineup and saves his legs. (As an aside, let me offer this: ``Duh.'')

Gardenhire also rightly noted that the Twins' moves this winter will frame his decision on how to use Mauer next season. I could see Mauer catching 100, playing first base 10 (presuming Morneau is healthy enough to return to playing 150 games a year), and playing rightfield 50.

Rightfield is smaller than left, and requires a strong arm. Mauer has a strong arm.

-While it's easy to rip the Twins for dumping J.J. Hardy, the real problem is the process by which they did so.

I'm fine with trading Hardy. It's obvious now, though, that the Twins didn't get the bullpen arm they needed (because Jim Hoey isn't good enough) and that Tsuyoshi Nishioka isn't a big-league player.

If you had traded Hardy for an endgame reliever and replaced him with a competent shortstop, this deal wouldn't look so bad.

Yes, the Twins could have simply kept Hardy. That would have been for the best. But at the time I understood their reluctance to pay a guy who didn't seem intent on playing through nagging injuries last year.

This is how bad Nishioka has been: Gardenhire can't wait for Alexi Casilla to return, so he has a competent middle infielder. ``I wish we could say we made a mistake, he's not hurt,'' Gardenhire joked.

-Cool note from Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune: Texas' Derek Holland has four shutouts and an ERA of 4.14. The last pitcher to have at least four shutouts and a 4-plus ERA was the Twins’ Geoff Zahn in 1980.

-Former Twin Randy Bush was telling the story about Kirby Puckett walking into the clubhouse before Game 6 of the World Series and yelling for everyone to climb on his back.

I pointed out that many witnesses remember Puckett saying that pretty much every day of his career.

``Yeah, I kind of left that out,'' Bush said. ``He did say that quite often. It wasn't like it was out of the norm for him to say that. But he did back it up a lot.''

-Tom Pelissero and myself will run the Gardenhire Show and Sunday Morning Sports Talk from the 3M Championship. Gardy Show starts at 9:30, followed by our show, on 1500ESPN.


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Two stuck-in-the-middle teams

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Sam Mitchell?