Sid Hartman: Gardenhire says Ryan worked trades hard

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2007 - 2:54 AM

Several Twins were upset with the team's GM for trading Luis Castillo and not obtaining a hitter, but the manager saw firsthand it wasn't for lack of trying.

While Twins players such as Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter and others have been critical of General Manager Terry Ryan for trading second baseman Luis Castillo and not adding another hitter, manager Ron Gardenhire said he sat in Ryan's office on the day of the trading deadline and watched him make every effort to complete such a trade.

"He made a lot of calls, and I thought did everything he could to improve the team, but it didn't work out," Gardenhire said.

I can't believe that, deep in his heart, Gardy wanted to lose Castillo, but he did say, "Castillo has those bad legs, and he was going to have a hard time playing on the turf."

The last time I saw players in the Twins clubhouse this upset after a trade was when outfielder Tom Brunansky was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals in April 1988 for second baseman Tom Herr, who turned out to be a complete flop.

As for Alexi Casilla, who no doubt is the Twins' second baseman of the future, Gardenhire said: "Well, he's very athletic. He can do just about anything you want to on a baseball field.

"His problem is he just tries to be a little too quick and a little too fancy right now. If we can calm all that down and just get the outs when you're supposed to, he can hit, he can run and he can throw. He's got all the tools. It's just a matter now of getting the youngness out of him and learning to get the outs when you're supposed to get outs. But this kid, he is very talented and a very good player."

It's amazing the Twins are still in the AL Central race with big problems in the infield. Nick Punto has been in a horrible batting slump and is hitting .211, shortstop Jason Bartlett has been hampered because of neck and shoulder injuries all season and now they've traded Castillo, a great leadoff man and .300 hitter.

"It's just been one of those things you have to mix and match," Gardenhire said. "Fortunately for us we're still in a pennant race here, and we're trying to mix and match with some young kids. We'll see what happens."

It's also hard to understand how well this team can play at times and then turn around and lose four or five games in a row.

"We're trying to get to where we're more consistent and get to that not-so-high and not-so-low path, and that's what we have to work on," Gardenhire said. "... We're working on it, we're trying, and hopefully it will work out. If our pitchers stay real consistent, being as young as they are, we'll be OK.

"We're in the race, and that's all that matters. That's what people want, a pennant race in August and September, and we're there. We're in it, and we'll see what happens. It ought to be a lot of fun."

If ever Gardenhire deserved to be Manager of the Year, this is the season. To keep this club in the pennant race with personnel not close to Detroit's and Cleveland's is a real credit to Gardy, who can handle athletes as well as any manager or coach I have been around.

Likes offensive line

Vikings coach Brad Childress said offensive line coach Pat Morris, who has spent five years in the NFL, considers this group of linemen as good as any he has coached.

"They're a battling group that might be just slightly undersized," Childress said, "but they make up for it with their leverage and their tenacity, those guys. And when we're talking undersized now, we're talking 295 pounds."

Childress said some of the free agents on the line, such as Josh Day from Colorado State, Adam O'Connor from NFL Europa, Chase Johnson from Wyoming and Kyle Cook from Michigan State, are some of the new offensive linemen who help improve the depth at that position.

Jottings

Former Gophers football players Alex Daniels and Keith Massey will transfer to other schools. The players were recently dismissed from the team.

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