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Hartman: Gardenhire wants Twins to still run

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN
  • Star Tribune
  • June 16, 2011 - 8:19 AM

The Twins have won 10 of their past 12 games and the biggest concern of manager Ron Gardenhire was that his team doesn't lose that edge of running around the bases and putting the pressure on the other team.

"When we get all of our backups back I still want that edge of putting the pressure on them and not waiting for the three-run homer and everybody being a part of it," Gardy said. "I've got to make sure that we get that. Of course there's going to be guys that you just let them hit and all that stuff. But I really like to be able to put things on, steal. I like to be able to hit-and -run. It's so much fun. And I don't want to lose that edge."

That edge was evident on Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox when the Twins stole five bases, three by Michael Cuddyer. The Twins aggression on the basepath played a clear and major role in their 4-1 victory. A double steal in the third inning by Cuddyer and Alexi Casilla set-up Delmon Young's two RBI single, which gave the Twins a 3-0 lead. Cuddyer also scored on Danny Valencia's two-out RBI double in the eighth after stealing second base.

Gardy said the talk with General Manager Bill Smith and others during the offseason was to improve the team's athletic ability and speed.

" You're seeing it right now out there with all these young kids," he said. "So when we get back, if we get Nishy [Tsuyoshi Nishioka] and we get [Denard] Span and we have a Ben Revere that we can stick in there, we can keep some of that edge. But I definitely like it with Alexi and all these guys."

Gardenhire said baseball is a crazy game, and it's all about confidence and the fundamentals of the game.

"We're executing a lot better now," he said. "We're getting bunts down. We're hitting and running. Guys are playing loose and not tight and not worried about making mistakes.

"When you start doing that and you get good pitching behind it and don't make the fundamental mistakes, everything kind of falls into place."

A number of former Rochester players are in danger of being sent down once several of the Twins starters come off the disabled list. But Gardy said he believes those players who were called up to replace veterans are playing their hearts out.

"Sure I mean it's all about that," he said. "They're trying to stick, they want to stay here, they don't want to be sent out."

Gardenhire was referring to players such as catcher Rene Rivera, who he said is doing a great job behind the plate and calls a good game, and Revere, who is doing a good job in the outfield.

"He runs around with his speed,'' Gardenhire said of Revere. ''That's what we need, we need people to step up and get it done while the other guys are hurt.

"It's going to be interesting," he said. "Right now I'm worried about playing the White Sox and we'll see when we get everybody healthy how it all fits in. That's all we can do."

Ex-Wolves in finals

A number of players with ties to the Timberwolves just finished up in the NBA Finals, with Corey Brewer and Brian Cardinal both on the championship Mavericks.

Brewer averaged 5.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 assists in 13 regular season games with the Mavericks but he didn't play a minute in the finals. Still, Brewer was happy with his role, telling CBS Sports, "I feel like I'm comfortable. I've gotten some regular season games, a little bit of time in the playoffs. But at the same time, it's a veteran team. It's hard to argue against getting time because we're winning. That's all that matters."

Cardinal, who played with the Wolves from 2008-2010, received some quality playing time in the finals, getting seven minutes in Game 4, 10 minutes in Game 5 and 12 minutes in Game 6.

While Brewer and Cardinal played for the winning squad, perhaps no player saw his stock increase in the Finals as much as former Timberwolves draft pick Mario Chalmers. He averaged 28.8 minutes in the finals, scoring 11.8 points and dishing out 3.5 assists per game. Chalmers also shot 42.6 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three. Chalmers is a free agent this offseason and Wednesday the Heat made him a qualifying offer, which means he becomes a restricted free agent and the Heat can match any offer a team makes for Chalmers. The Wolves traded Chalmers to Miami after taking him with the 31st pick in the 2008 draft for two second-round picks and cash from Miami. With those picks the Wolves drafted Henk Norel and traded the other to Dallas.

Let's hope David Kahn quits trading his draft choices and keeps some of the good ones he is fortunate to draft.

Jottings

Reports have Ricky Rubio locked up with the Wolves, but after playing on the Barcelona team that beat Bilboa for the Spanish basketball title on Tuesday, the Wolves 2009 first-draft choice said about his future: "We are talking with Barcelona and we will see soon." Rubio's buyout from Barcelona is $1.4 million, of which the Wolves can pay only $500,000.

Former Minneapolis North star Khalid El-Amin will be holding his El-Amin Summer Basketball Camp from June 20-23 at the Minneapolis Sports Center YMCA. El-Amin and his family were hard hit by the recent tornado in North Minneapolis that left a gaping hole in the roof of their El-Amin Fish House. Khalid played in Lithuania with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius this past season, averaging 12.1 points, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the Euroleague.

Tom Windle, the Gopher freshman pitcher who was named All-Big Ten tournament team after blanking Ohio State and Purdue for eight innings, has been invited to try out for the U.S. World Baseball team that will play in an international tournament. Windle, a native of Osseo, was drafted in the 28th round by the White Sox last year. He was 6-2 with a 1.52 ERA for the Gophers.

Windle is pitching for the Madison, Wis., team in the Northwoods League.

Derrick Engel, who was an excellent receiver at Chaska High School and was selected as an All-Northern Sun Conference selection at Winona State last year, will transfer to Minnesota next season and put in a year as a transfer student before being eligible.

Marty Morgan, who resigned as an assistant Gopher wrestling coach to train mixed martial arts fighters Brock Lesnar and Cole Konrad, is reported to be a leading candidate for the North Dakota State wrestling coach position.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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