Pivotal August deal is seen as unlikely

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2012 - 9:00 AM

BOSTON - During his first stint as Twins general manager, Terry Ryan pulled two of his biggest coups in August, soon after the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

Using the waiver wire, he traded Dave Hollins to the Mariners on Aug. 29, 1996, for a Class A first baseman who eventually changed his name to David Ortiz. Then, on Aug. 21, 1997, Ryan traded Roberto Kelly to the Mariners for a Class A pitcher named Joe Mays.

But Ryan will have a tougher time making moves this August. Two of the team's best candidates to get traded this month -- Carl Pavano and Matt Capps -- are recovering from shoulder injuries and might not pitch until September.

Other players the Twins discussed moving before the July 31 deadline -- Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Jared Burton -- probably won't clear waivers because of their team-friendly contracts. When players are claimed, teams can pull them back off waivers but can't move them for the rest of the season.

Justin Morneau probably would clear waivers, since he's owed $18.6 million through 2013, but any trade likely would come in the winter, when other teams could be more certain about his ability to stay healthy through the end of that contract.

The Twins traded Delmon Young (to Detroit) and Jim Thome (to Cleveland) last August. This month could be much quieter.

"I would say that's probably accurate," Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. "There's a lot of interest in guys, and when you run those guys through [waivers], it's harder to do.

"So I'd say [an August trade's] probably not highly likely, but we'll do our thing as every team does. And if somebody claims them, we'll talk to that club and see if anything makes sense."

Willingham rests

After serving as the DH the first two games at Fenway Park, Josh Willingham was on the bench until he pinch-hit for Darin Mastroianni in the eighth inning Saturday.

Gardenhire said it wasn't injury-related, and Willingham stayed in the game and played left field in the eighth and ninth innings.

"Just giving him a break," Gardenhire said. "He plays every day, every inning. Even DH is not a break. He can't play them all."

Willingham leads the Twins with 103 games played. The Red Sox started lefthanded pitchers Thursday and Friday, so Gardenhire said he picked Saturday to sit Willingham against righthander Clay Buchholz.

The right mix for Mauer

Joe Mauer has played in 98 of the Twins' 107 games, third most behind Willingham and Span. The Twins have found a formula to keep Mauer's bat in the lineup: He has started 48 games at catcher, 20 at first base, 27 as the DH and made three other pinch-hit appearances.

"I'm still trying to find a good balance, because catchers need days [off]," Mauer said. "Obviously, it's less taxing going at first or DHing, but it's still not a day [off], so I think I'm definitely learning."

Etc.

•Pavano (rotator cuff weakness) is scheduled to pitch two innings in a Gulf Coast League game Tuesday, with Kyle Gibson (elbow surgery) expected to pitch three or four innings of relief in that same game.

Trevor Plouffe (bruised thumb) remains on the disabled list, as the thumb still hurts when he swings. The longer he's out, the more likely he'll need to go on a minor league rehab stint.

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