Twins General Manager Bill Smith isn't concerned about having catcher Joe Mauer for the start of the season even though Mauer, following a kidney operation, has yet to do anything to get in shape with spring training less than two weeks away.

"Until the doctor tells me different, I'm not going to be concerned," Smith said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Smith said he is concentrating on adding a relief pitcher, and he pointed to the board in his office that listed 43 righthanders and 16 lefties with major-league experience who still are available. This group includes Dennys Reyes, who was with the Twins last year.

Smith refused to confirm nor deny that the Twins have lost interest in free agent Eric Gagne, as has been reported.

He said Diamondbacks slugger Adam Dunn doesn't interest the Twins because "we have five outfielders."

Nomar Garciaparra, who hit .268 in 55 games for the Dodgers last year, is one of the better third basemen available, but the Twins think they have better athletes on the roster.

And Smith made it clear owner Jim Pohlad is not holding up any additions, and that he OK'd the big contracts for Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Mauer, and hasn't yet turned down any requests for the right to sign a player.

"Jim was in Mexico last year when we completed the signing of Nathan," Smith said. "We had done a little talking about the Nathan contract before he left for the trip, but not much. Then I wired him a number we had agreed on with Nathan and the e-mail came right back OK."

McCants patient

Rashad McCants, a first-round draft choice of the Timberwolves in 2005, seems to be patient even though he has seen very little action recently until Wednesday. He played more than 15 minutes against Atlanta and scored 10 points. It was his first action since playing seven minutes against Oklahoma City on Jan. 7. He had played less than 14 minutes since the New Year.

"It's not about me, it's about the team," he said.

Naturally, he isn't happy about his lack of playing time.

"But that's not the way things are going right now," he said. "So, I've just got to wait my turn. They told me that I had to wait my turn, pretty much. There's not really anything I did, but my time is coming and be patient.

"I doubt that, but it's just right now the team has a rotation that fits, and I'm not in it. So, that's pretty much how it goes."

McCants had played in 31 games and is averaging 9.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.0 assist. Last year, McCants averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.


Wild owner Craig Leipold, must be concerned about the economy hurting the ticket sales for next year. This week, he announced no increase in playoff ticket prices over last year and a freeze of ticket prices for the 2009-2010 season in a conference call to some 1,000 season ticketholders. According to one season ticketholder, there were a lot of questions about the future of Marian Gaborik and Niklas Backstrom, and whether they would be back.

Royce White, the Hopkins basketball star who is headed for the Gophers, will play in the Jordan All-American Classic on April 18 in Madison Square Garden. That was quite a display the Royals put on Tuesday night in beating Cooper. Hopkins has four future Division I players in the starting lineup, something that never has happened in state basketball history. In addition to White, Mike Broghammer is going to Notre Dame, Trent Lockett to Arizona State and Raymond Cowels to UC- Santa Clara. And on the other side in a Cooper uniform was Rodney Williams Jr., another future Gophers great. Former Gopher Trent Tucker watched the game and couldn't recall as many talented players on one high school floor. Tucker, who works with Rick Rickert in the offseason, reported the ex-Gopher was having a great year playing for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian Basketball League.

Minnesota native Tom Lehman participated in his first event of the 2009 season, shooting 74-70 and missing the cut at the FBR Open in Arizona last week. ... Wayzata native Tim Herron has participated in three events in 2009 and finished 19th at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the only event where he has made the cut; Herron has earned $87,970 this year.

Former Gopher Bobby Jackson is in his 11th NBA season and is back with the Sacramento Kings after spending last season with the New Orleans Hornets and the Houston Rockets. Jackson is averaging 6.2 points and 1.6 assists in 18.1 minutes per game.

Former Gophers running back Marion Barber III was limited to only 13 carries in his last four games of the season because of a nagging toe injury, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Barber will be ready for offseason workouts with the Cowboys. In 15 games last season, Barber rushed for 885 yards on 238 carries and had seven touchdowns.

Former Gopher Ben Gordon has 10 goals and 12 assists in 37 games for Cincinnati of ECHL. Also playing for the Cyclones are Jimmy Kilpatrick, a former Holy Angels standout, and Mark Van Guilder of Roseville, who are the team's second- and third-leading scorers. Kilpatrick has 22 goals and 23 assists in 45 games and Van Guilder has 13 goals and 29 assists in 44 games. ... Former Gophers P.J. Atherton and Mike Howe are playing for Ontario Reign of ECHL. Atherton has five goals and nine assists in 25 games and Howe has two goals and five assists in 30 games.

Former Gophers basketball coach Jim Molinari is 7-15 overall and 4-7 in conference play with Western Illinois this season. ... His predecessor, Dan Monson, continues to have a good season for Long Beach State. The 49ers are in first place in the Big West with a conference record of 6-2 and are 11-9 overall this season.

Tommy Finks, son of former Vikings, Bears and Saints General Manager Jim Finks, was inducted in the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame last weekend. ... Former Gopher Michael Bauer recently finished his season with Base Oostende of Belgium. Bauer averaged 11.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in six games in the EuroChallenge, and 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in the EuroCup. ... Ex-Gopher Adam Boone is averaging 11 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists through 15 games for BSC Raiffeisen Furstendelf. ... Dan Coleman is leading AD Vagos in scoring (20.1 points per game) and rebounding (8.2). ... Vincent Grier is averaging 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 28.9 minutes per game for Cholet Basket in France. ... Through 19 games, Quincy Lewis is averaging 6.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 19 minutes per game for Iurbentia Bilbao in Spain.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at