Ryan says he wouldn't force a deal

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has been so busy trying to make a deal he was unaware of the initial reports that Kevin Garnett was being traded from the Timberwolves to Boston.

"I'm in a cocoon up there," he said.

Ryan emerged from his cocoon on Tuesday, after the 3 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline passed without the sorely needed hitter to boost the Twins' playoff chances.

The only deal Ryan swung was sending leadoff hitter Luis Castillo to the Mets, a deal in which he received two minor leaguers for a free agent-to-be he didn't plan on re-signing.

"I had hot leads," he said, "but I didn't have anything that was close."

It was a reminder that even if Ryan was ready to deal it takes a partner to make one happen. Other than Mark Teixeira getting dealt from Texas to Atlanta, the league didn't see many hitters change teams.

Mike Piazza remains in Oakland. Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. remain in Cincinnati. Jermaine Dye remains with the White Sox. All of those hitters were believed to be available before the deadline but weren't traded.

"You cannot force something unless it is meant to be," Ryan said.

The Twins were interested in several hitters before the deadline. Piazza is believed to prefer to play on one of the coasts and not in the Upper Midwest. The Twins were interested in Tampa Bay infielder Ty Wigginton, but he was dealt to Houston.

The Twins did express interest recently in Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins, with Juan Rincon offered as part of the deal, but the Rockies turned them down.

It wasn't for a lack of effort.

"There are a lot frustrated people in the baseball department," Twins President Dave St. Peter said.

Manager Ron Gardenhire was in Ryan's office at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to observe some of the proceedings and said he never felt they were closing in on a deal.

"I don't know how you get optimistic about stuff like that," he said. "It was one of those things [where] he was working on different things and trying different things and everyone else was too."

Gardenhire might have a bit of a challenge keeping his players focused on getting back in the playoff picture. After all, the club has spent several weeks looking for hitting but ended up trading a .300 hitter in Castillo. Several players already have expressed bewilderment.

"They want to quit they can walk off the field," Gardenhire said. "We are going to keep playing."

Casilla's time

Infielder Alexi Casilla started at second Tuesday and batted ninth as his tryout for the 2008 Opening Day lineup began. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in the 5-3 victory over Kansas City.

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Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 0 FINAL
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