Ryan protective of pitching depth

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan packaged righthanders Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler to land Luis Castillo from the Marlins before the 2006 season. Can he make a similar move this year to get the Twins a hitter for the playoff push?

Ryan would have to compromise his philosophies to do so.

"I'd be hesitant to give up too much pitching," Ryan said, "because if there's one way we are going to be competitive it is on the mound. We address that in the draft, in the minor leagues and we address that in just about every decision we make."

The Twins are looking for offensive help, and they could use the young pitchers in the rotation as well as minor league prospects as trade bait before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

In addition to righthanders Scott Baker, Boof Bonser and Matt Garza at the major league level, the Twins have several minor leaguers having good seasons, such as righthanders Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn and lefthander Brian Duensing at Class AAA Rochester, lefthander Ryan Mullins at Class AA New Britain and righthanders Jeff Manship, Jay Rainville and Zach Ward at Class A Fort Myers.

That doesn't include lefthander Glen Perkins, who is working his way back from a strained muscle near his shoulder.

Ryan's approach has been to stockpile arms.

"If we are ever going to be good over the long haul and the short term, it is going to be on the mound," Ryan said. "It has allowed us to stay competitive."

Jones starts at DH

Garrett Jones, called up from Class AAA Rochester on Wednesday, started as the designated hitter Thursday and likely will start against righthanders.

Jones went 2-for-4, just missing his first home run when he doubled high off the baggie in right field in the eighth inning.

Batting .295 with 11 homers and 58 RBI for the Red Wings, Jones recently has moved off the plate so he can hit more inside pitches.

"Our DH hasn't exactly been a spot where you can drive a baseball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've run just about every speed guy we have out there. ... We need some production and RBIs and everything like that. Jones was our best guy down there."

Torii talk

Twins center fielder Torii Hunter was a marked man during All-Star events by reporters wanting to know where the potential free agent will play next year. If Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki does sign a five-year, $100-million contract extension, which has been reported, Hunter would be the top outfielder on the market.

"Obviously these other guys are signing, and he's going to have to hear it, too," Gardenhire said. "I'm sure it's music to his agents' ears, and not to ours."

Hunter, meanwhile, denied he was playing for a contract.

"I play hard every day," said Hunter, who has 36 homers and 120 RBI since last year's All-Star break. "I don't want anyone to think I'm playing hard for the salary."

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