Sid Hartman: GM Smith not in panic mode just yet

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2011 - 10:52 PM

However, he realizes that the Twins need to start playing better, which includes getting their bats going.

Twins General Manager Bill Smith isn't going to panic because of his team's 5-10 start. But at the same time, he said Sunday: "We understand the importance of every game. You can lose a division in April just as easily as you can lose it in September. You can win it in April just as easily as you can win it in September. We've got to right the ship, and we're going to get our guys back on track."

However, Smith looks back to 1991, when the Twins also were 5-10 after 15 games, having gone through a seven-game losing streak. That team went on to beat Atlanta in the World Series, and Smith sees hope that this year's club can turn it around, too.

"We've had a tough few days here, and you know they really hurt when ... late in the game, you've got a lead and they get away from you," Smith said from St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Twins lost three of four games to the Rays. "We've got a lot of work to do."

The big news from Sunday was that Matt Capps was taking over the closer role from Joe Nathan, who had blown two save opportunities against the Rays after converting his first three chances this season. Capps came on and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Twins' 4-2 victory on Sunday.

"We're going to get Nathan in the game a little bit earlier," Smith said. "The good news, both guys are healthy. Their arms are fine and all that. We just need to calm things down and get ourselves back on track. But I know one thing: If we're going to have any success this year, Nathan and Capps and some of these other guys that have struggled a little bit lately, they're going to be a big part of it."

Smith said that the Twins -- who are dead last in Major League Baseball in runs scored at 45 through 15 games and are hitting .235 as a team -- have to get their offense going. For instance, in this four-game series with Tampa Bay, veteran Rays outfielder Johnny Damon had more RBI (six) than Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Delmon Young and Danny Valencia had combined (four).

Mauer situation

As for Joe Mauer, who is on the disabled list, Smith said the All-Star catcher has been "sick as a dog" for the past few days.

"I don't think anyone thinks this is any kind of long-term issue with him," Smith said. "We're going to get him back on the field, get him healthy, and then have him back for the long run of the season.

"He's had all these aches in his legs, and his legs have been very weak. All of a sudden ... the day that we put him on the DL, some of this other stuff came up. This flu or viral infection, whatever, kind of hit him and it hit him hard.

"So you know, that helps kind of explain some of the other symptoms he was having."

Smith said Mauer did have to go to a hospital in Florida, but it was precautionary.

"The Rays doctor in Tampa, he treated him during the game and then he said, 'You need to take him to the hospital, just to get some tests run.' They treated him and released him, but they got some fluids back in him and got him on some antibiotics to try and get rid of this."

Smith reported Morneau didn't play Sunday because he was ill. The slugger had played every game this season before Sunday.

"He's hit some balls hard," Smith said. "He's gotten robbed on a few, he's gotten a few soft ones, and that's what happens, they all even out over the course of the year. But we're thrilled with the progress Justin's made from the concussion last summer. We're thrilled to have him back in the lineup."

Jottings

• While the Twins are playing the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim from Sept. 2-4, the Gophers football team will be playing its opening game under new coach Jerry Kill against Southern California in Los Angeles on Sept. 3.

• Longtime Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who missed all of spring training and the season to date because of eye surgery, will rejoin the team when it comes home from its road trip Friday. Former Twins catcher and minor league manager Phil Roof has been subbing for Stelmaszek.

• It's no surprise Nathan is having some problems after having the Tommy John elbow surgery. Speaking with him before the Twins left for their road trip, he said he didn't expect to be 100 percent before June 1. ... Meanwhile, Capps hadn't been that great this season, with a 4.50 ERA in his first seven games, but he did look good recording his first save Sunday, needing only eight pitches to finish off the Rays.

• While scouting for Toronto, former Twins catcher Sal Butera was able to watch the two-game Twins-Kansas City series at Target Field and was able to watch his son Drew catch Wednesday. ... The Twins' decision to trade both Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales isn't looking that great right now with Mauer on the DL and both of those players having nice starts to the 2011 season. Ramos, traded to Washington for Capps last summer, has been excellent this season, hitting .414 (12-for-29) with two doubles, two RBI and six runs scored. He has been platooning with 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez. Morales has seen limited action with Colorado, appearing in five games, but he has three hits in 11 at-bats to go with three RBI and one run.

• More evidence indicating Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith doesn't have any plans to leave is that the Tubby Smith Foundation, which had Lexington, Ky., as its headquarters, will now share that with an office in Minneapolis. Smith will hold a golf tournament at the Edina Country Club in September to raise money for the foundation.

• When the Vikings had 30 top draft prospects in town, Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman offered the following information: "They'll watch tape of themselves, too," he said. "We do a pretty thorough job with grilling these guys when they come in here. We have the cut-ups on these guys that show all their strengths and weaknesses as players. We do run those tapes while we're sitting there talking about them in the draft meetings as well. It gives you a pretty good picture of what that player is."

• The Gophers football team has three more spring practices, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, when the spring game will be held at 1 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. After that, Kill will spend time interviewing every player on the squad and talking to them about their strengths, their weaknesses and what they have to do to get better. While he is doing that, most of the other coaches on the staff will be out recruiting. ... The Big Ten Network will stream the Gophers spring game online at bigtennetwork.com and televise it at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
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Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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