Sid Hartman: Morneau eager to get deal done

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 4, 2007 - 9:36 PM

The league's reigning MVP denies he was offered a deal similar to teammate Joe Mauer's, but his agent is talking to Twins officials to settle a contract.

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau informed me Sunday that he never was offered the same four-year, $33 million contract that catcher Joe Mauer accepted.

The American League MVP didn't say whether he would have accepted such an offer. But Morneau sounded optimistic that he would sign a long-term deal in the near future.

"I was definitely never offered that -- so it was interesting when I read that and my agent read that," Morneau said. "And I think it was probably interesting when Terry [Ryan, the team's general manager] read that, too."

Morneau said his agent, Mark Pieper, is talking to Ryan about getting a deal done.

"I think we're pretty close; we're hopefully going to get it done," Morneau said. "I think my agent's coming down here [to spring training] -- they're hoping to meet with Terry in the next couple days and they're going to talk face-to-face. Hopefully, they can talk and figure something out.

"I think it's something both sides want to do if it makes sense and ... obviously, I want to be in Minnesota for a long time. With the team we have and the young guys we have, it's a great place to play.

"Yeah, I think both sides are still optimistic. We have a couple weeks, probably three weeks, left until the end of spring training. And, after that, it's time to concentrate on the regular season, so hopefully we can get it done before all that stuff starts."

There is a good chance that a number of the superstars on the Twins will sign new contracts or extensions this spring.

Hudson gets chance

After the Timberwolves lost to Dallas here Tuesday, Kevin Garnett was asked if the team might improve if Troy Hudson, who has been riding the bench, was given a chance to play like he did earlier in his career here. "Absolutely," answered Garnett. "Absolutely."

Hudson, who has played in 28 of the team's 58 games, got a limited chance Friday against the Jazz. He played 17 minutes, hitting two of nine shots for five points and added one assist.

But on Sunday he started and was impressive against the Celtics, playing 46 minutes and scoring 26 points.

Hudson says he is 100 percent healthy and just looking for the chance to play.

"It's just about getting back in the rhythm, getting my game and getting going," he said. "I haven't really had the chance all year, so it's tough to come out every 20 games and have a rhythm like you want to have."

Three years ago, it looked like the Wolves were headed for the NBA championship with Hudson leading the way. Then he got hurt and the team was eliminated by the Lakers.

"I think I'm back to that level of play," Hudson said. "I said this is a game of rhythm -- once you've been out for a while you just need someone to have confidence in you to put you out there and let you get a rhythm."

Hudson said he can't understand why he wasn't playing.

"When you look at it, early in the season when I was playing, our record was pretty good," he said.

Based on what Hudson did Sunday, he will be the No. 1 point guard, replacing rookie Randy Foye, who played six minutes, and Mike James, who played 15.

Maybe with eight guards on the team's 12-man roster, the Wolves finally have found their point guard.

"Hopefully, hopefully, I can stay consistent," Hudson said.

Jottings

The Vikings weren't the only team with a big delegation -- including owner Zygi Wilf -- at the workout of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn in South Bend, Ind., on Sunday. The Browns had an equally large group there, including their owner. The Browns draft third, four spots ahead of the Vikings. Houston, which drafts eighth, has talked to teams about moving up so it can draft Quinn, who did a good job of selling himself on Sunday. The Gophers have done all their work with shorts on in the first two days of spring practice. But on Tuesday, coach Tim Brewster said that "we will put the pads on and we're going to begin practice with an Oklahoma drill. It's going to be absolutely outstanding -- I think everybody's gonna be excited about it ... and it's going to be a lot of fun." Yes, this Oklahoma drill is even tougher than a scrimmage.

According to recruiting website Rivals.com, Brewster's son Nolan, a safety and high school junior, has been offered scholarships by Florida and Texas, which are his top two choices. It's a long time before he can sign, so maybe Nolan will change his mind the way his brother Clint did and play for his dad.

DeWayne Walker was an outstanding Gophers defensive back. Now he is the defensive coordinator for UCLA. His son Kevan is an outstanding wide receiver in Arcadia, Calif., and according to Rivals.com he has been offered a scholarship by the Gophers.

Coach Jim Molinari and the Gophers men's basketball staff believe that Minneapolis Henry's Al Nolen Jr. can play point guard for the team next year, and they had to be encouraged to see Nolen score a career high 29 points against St. Paul Johnson in a 79-77 loss. ... Former DeLaSalle basketball player Cameron Rundles was named the Big Sky Conference's men's Freshman of the Year. Rundles led Big Sky freshmen in scoring (8.2 points per game). ... Northern Arizona senior guard Stephen Sir, who played at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, was named to the second-team All-Big Sky Conference team. Sir leads NCAA Division I in three-point field goals per game and set a conference single-season record with 114 three-pointers.

Bloomington native Peter Mueller is ninth in the WHL in scoring with 17 goals and 56 assists for 73 points in 49 games for the Everett Silvertips. ... His teammate Ondrej Fiala, the second-round pick of the Wild last summer, has 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points in 39 games. ... Former Gopher Ryan Potulny has split time between the Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he scored five goals and had four assists in 25 games, and the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms, where he has nine goals and 10 assists.

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