Jim Thome's former Twins teammates weren't bitter Friday. Neither, it seemed, were their fans.
One day after trading Thome to Cleveland for a player to be named, the Twins stuck with plans to give miniature Thome wind-up toys to the first 10,000 people through the Target Field gates.
Dean Kubicek, 35, showed up for the Twins' 8-1 loss to Detroit wearing a Thome jersey. His wife, Kelly, had a Johan Santana jersey. The Cottage Grove couple are not ones to hold a grudge.
"I think [the trade] stinks for the Twins, but it's good for Thome," Dean Kubicek said. "He's a good guy. He's done a lot of great things, and he's still looking for that ring."
Thome, who turns 41 on Saturday, agreed to waive his no-trade clause so he could go back to Cleveland, where he spent his first 12 major league seasons. He is looking for his first World Series title, and Cleveland is looking for its first since 1948.
"When I think about all my history here, and the fact that I've always thought about returning, [accepting the trade] was a no-brainer," Thome told reporters at Progressive Field before going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Cleveland's 2-1 victory over Kansas City.
That victory kept the Indians 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. As Cleveland tries catching Detroit over the season's final five weeks, the Twins find themselves selling off parts and trying to play spoilers.
"Ask anybody in here, it's not a good new feeling," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said.
Added outfielder Jason Kubel: "I haven't been a part of it, and I don't think I'll be a part of it again. That's the plan at least. Hopefully we'll come out of this OK and go back to winning next year."
Kubel, a pending free agent, spent the week wondering if he'd get traded himself. He was placed on trade waivers Wednesday and reportedly claimed by Cleveland, just like Thome. But the 48-hour window for the Twins to trade Kubel expired Friday, meaning he will likely finish the season with the Twins.
"I think it was probably weighing on [Kubel] a whole lot because he wants to be here, wants to be a part of the future," first baseman Justin Morneau said. "Once a guy leaves, it's kind of hard to get him to come back. Hopefully this is a sign to him that we want him to stay."
In 2007, Santana ripped the Twins front office for trading second baseman Luis Castillo to the Mets. But these Twins know they haven't played well enough to justify keeping everybody.
Ten days after trading Delmon Young to the Tigers, the Twins gave Thome another chance to play meaningful September baseball.
"He's given so much to this game, he deserves an opportunity to be in a pennant race," Morneau said. "It's unfortunate he went to a division rival. You want to see him do well, but at the same time, you're not really cheering for any team in our division."
Thome has hinted that he would like to play again next season. He battled numerous injuries early this year but hit four homers for the Twins in August, including the 599th and 600th of his career on Aug. 15 in Detroit.
Is it possible Thome could be back with the Twins next year?
"I talked to him about it; he'd go play somewhere else, and talk to us again in the winter," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Jim wants to get in the World Series, and I told him, we plan on having a really good baseball team next year, get everybody healthy and start the year that way and we'll talk over the winter."
All of that might be a pipe dream, but one thing's certain: Twins fans would welcome Thome back with open arms.