Jim Pohlad hasn’t spoken to Terry Ryan during the last week, as trade rumors began swirling around his team. But the Twins owner and CEO said he had already offered his input into Ryan’s negotiations.
“My only philosophy that I wanted to give him is: We’re not interested in giving anything away,” Pohlad said. “We’re not just getting rid of anything, whether it’s players or [salary]. Any trade would be made with the intention to get something of value in return. … But Terry already knew that. It wasn’t a great revelation.”
Apparently not. Ryan, the general manager, echoed Pohlad’s sentiment in discussing the slow state of trade talks on the eve of the deadline. “I don’t think the right thing would be just to jettison [a player with an expiring contract] out of here,” Ryan said. “The right thing to do [is to say], ‘All right, if you get something you feel good about.’ ”
Justin Morneau has heard trade rumors before, but said his expiring contract makes this year different. “I’m so close to the end of my contract, I know it’s a possibility. Especially with the team not doing as well as we’d like,” the four-time All-Star first baseman said. “If there’s something that will help this team in the future, I guess that’s up to them. I want to be part of this team and this city — it’s the only city I’ve known in the big leagues. But we’ll see.”
But if the Twins agree to a trade, and it involves Morneau or Glen Perkins — long rumored to be the most frequent topics of discussion among potential suitors — Pohlad said he would be sorry to see them go.
“They’re just wonderful people,” he said. “Some of the best, personality-wise.”
More swings needed
Josh Willingham can feel it already. Wednesday marks four weeks since the Twins left fielder underwent surgery to remove the torn medial meniscus from his left knee, and he is eager to start playing baseball again.
“I’ll be striking out in no time,” he joked.
Willingham took two turns in the batting cage before Tuesday’s game, slicing one line drive after another into left-center field and lifting one pitch into the flower pots in left. It was the first time he had swung the bat this month, and is a significant milepost on his recovery, not to mention a relief to his team’s power-starved lineup. “I felt rusty,” he said, “but I squared some balls up. I just need more repetitions.”
His knee, however, no longer aches when he patrols the outfield, as it did before the surgery. “It’s a lot better. … I played quite a bit with it hurting pretty bad,” Willingham said. “When you’re competitive, you want to play if you still can, and I felt like I could.”
His plan is to take four more days of live batting practice, then report to a minor league team for a rehab stint, one that manager Ron Gardenhire said will last a minimum of five games. It hasn’t been determined where he will go, though Ryan said “the wise thing would be to get him up [where] the competition [is] the highest,” likely meaning Class AAA Rochester.
There was no post-surgery swelling in his knee, speeding up Willingham’s return by at least a week. Now it’s possible, Willingham said, that he could rejoin the Twins during their trip to Chicago on Aug. 9-11.
• Brian Dozier was out of the lineup Tuesday, still experiencing some soreness in his back and knee after an awkward lunge into second base over the weekend in Seattle. An MRI on his knee showed no damage, and Gardenhire said the second baseman might be ready to play Wednesday.