Torii might accept less money to stay with Twins

Hunter, during a radio interview Wednesday, expressed his preference for signing a contract extension now instead of waiting until the end of the season. He also indicated he might be willing to accept less money than he would get on the open market to remain with the Twins.

"I think I can surprise a lot of people," Hunter told KFAN's Dan Barreiro. "There's [no talks] going on, so you never know what I'm thinking.

"I never once said what I wanted. I never said if I was going to give a discount or be crazy and outrageous and ask for all this money like Vernon Wells [seven years, $126 million]. You never know until we talk."

Hunter said he hasn't had any discussions with the club since spring training.

"I just hate it's down to this point," he said. "I've seen this happen to a lot of players around the league and a lot of players I have played with and it's kind of sad this could be my last year in Minnesota."

Club no longer trying to get Jones

The Twins were interested in dealing for Chicago Cubs outfielder and former Twin Jacque Jones before Jones' trade to the Marlins fell through. But indications are that the Twins and Cubs won't be able to rekindle talks because of finances.

According to sources, the Twins looked into the deal before the Cubs agreed to send Jones to Florida for a minor leaguer. The Cubs reportedly were willing to eat $6.6 million of the $7.2 million remaining on Jones' contract through 2008.

Now there are indications the Cubs have decided they can't afford to eat that much salary, causing the deal to fall apart. The club is expected to keep trying to trade Jones, who's batting .233 with two homers and 20 RBI. The Chicago Tribune has begun a "Jacque Watch," on its website.

Jones, a Twin from 1999-2005, would have played left field while Jason Kubel shifted to desginated hitter. It's unclear who the Twins would have given up in the deal.

For a deal with the Twins to work, the Cubs would have to pay about $6.6 million of Jones' remaining salary. According to a club source, the Twins have no flexibility to take on payroll beyond this year because of the raises right fielder Michael Cuddyer and first baseman Justin Morneau will get through arbitration after the season. The club also could make another run at locking up lefthander Johan Santana beyond 2008 and possibly re-sign outfielder Torii Hunter.

That is revealing in one significant aspect: If the Twins add a hitter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it will likely be a player whose contract expires after this season.

Morneau can go

Morneau was cleared to begin workouts, after suffering a bruised lung Friday during a collision at home plate in Florida.

Morneau headed right for the batting cage with hitting coach Joe Vavra and began hitting screaming liners. He could be available today for the series finale.

"Maybe [Thursday]," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Definitely Friday."

Gardenhire said Morneau will be the designated hitter for a few games once he returns.

Morneau has missed five games since the injury, which hospitalized him for three days.

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