Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
* Manager Ron Gardenhire had no problem with the fan in the Joe Mauer jersey who kept THE JOE MAUER from catching J.J. Hardy's foul ball only moments before Hardy smashed his 24th home run.
"The ball was in the stands," Gardenhire said. "If you’re a fan, you’ve got two choices: reach up and catch the ball, or let it hit you in the head and hope that Mauer catches it.
"C’mon. If you’re sitting there in the stands, you’re going to try to catch the ball. It’s the same way with [Steve] Bartman. You’re going to try to catch the ball if you’re a fan.
"You can’t blame our fans for reaching up and catching the ball. You can boo him, like I heard, but they’re going to try to catch it. Joe would have caught the ball. He had a chance to catch the ball, but that’s not why we lost the game."
* It's interesting to know Gardenhire and Hunter Wendelstedt have patched their differences, or at least agreed to keep their criticisms of each other out of the press.
“I’ve got to go out and defend [Valencia] a little bit,” Gardenhire said, explaining his ejection. “Hunter and I actually have gotten along very well. I was a little frustrated and probably didn’t need to get thrown out. That’s my fault, not Hunter’s.”
Then, Gardenhire thought about all the fine money he's paid over the years. This was his 60th career ejection, and the commissioner's office will surely use Wendelstedt's report when deciding how much to fine Gardenhire this time.
"I got thrown out," Gardenhire said. "I probably deserved ... hopefully every ... $5 of it."
* Also interesting to see Gardenhire in a position where he's defending third baseman Danny Valencia, a player who's taken his share of criticism from the manager this year.
"I appreciate that," Valencia said. "I wasn’t obviously there to see [Gardenhire's ejection], but it’s nice obviously when the manager has your back. It’s a good feeling, and I feel bad because he didn’t deserve to get ejected at my expense."
Valencia had been unhappy with Wendelstedt's strike zone throughout the game.
"I was frustrated, and my emotions got the best of me there," Valencia said. "I probably shouldn’t have done it. ... I didn’t curse or anything, but either way, I probably shouldn’t have said anything. It was my first [ejection], probably will be my last. When you play this game and you’re struggling, you've got a lot of emotions."
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