Twins have chance to gain in wild-card race

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2007 - 12:52 AM

Public officials advised the team to play despite the bridge tragedy.

After postponing Thursday's game against Kansas City due to the bridge collapse, the Twins open a key four-game series tonight against Cleveland at the Dome.

The Indians, who lead the Twins by 5 ½ games in the wild-card race, will proceed as originally scheduled, starting at 7:10 p.m., with a showdown between the team's aces, Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia.

The Twins expect 35,000 fans for the series opener at the Metrodome, though they realize there are enormous logistical challenges one mile from the scene of Wednesday's bridge tragedy.

They also wrestled with a question. Are Minnesotans ready for baseball again?

"There's a fine line there," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "I think we've actually been encouraged to play [tonight]. ... We're hopeful that maybe it can create at least some pockets of normalcy going forward."

The team will observe another moment of silence before the game.

"We will play with those individuals and families who have been impacted by this on our mind and certainly in our hearts," St. Peter said. "At the same time, we felt like the right decision was to move forward and play baseball this weekend."

Put into perspective

By baseball standards, the Twins have had an emotional week. They traded popular veteran Luis Castillo. Then Santana dealt some heavy criticism toward management for not making any other moves before the trade deadline.

By Wednesday, however, all of that seemed pretty small.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said Thursday that right fielder Michael Cuddyer might need an extra day or two before returning from the disabled list.

Cuddyer is eligible to return from the DL tonight, but as he said Wednesday, "There's a lot of worse things that can happen in the world than a sprained thumb."

On a small scale, Cuddyer said, this feels like 2001, when baseball tried finding its place after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That time, baseball suspended play for a week, and when it resumed, Cuddyer had received his first big-league promotion.

"The last thing I was thinking about [in 2001] was baseball," he said, "and that was my first time ever being in the big leagues."

Baseball returned that year with President Bush throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

"There's nothing more normal in America than a baseball game," Cuddyer said. "And maybe it will be something that will help people cope.

"But it's going to take time. One baseball game's not going to be able to do anything. Hopefully for those three hours we'll be able to bring some type of normalcy back."

Cuddyer did say he hoped the Cleveland series could get started tonight, and Thursday he got his wish.

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