KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The non-waiver trade deadline is a day away, but it's been a topic in the Twins' dugout for days. "All the time," manager Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday. "[I'll say,] 'You still here?' "
But "they say the same to me, though," Gardenhire said with a laugh, "which is kind of a back-at-you."
That's about the extent of the visible nervousness in the Twins' clubhouse about being sent elsewhere. A CBSsports.com report Wednesday said the Yankees and Mariners have discussed acquiring Josh Willingham, who is batting cleanup tonight against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but mostly there has been little chatter about Twins' players at the deadline.
Meanwhile, the three-game series in Kauffman Stadium goes on, with Phil Hughes on the mound tonight, feeling no effects from the line drive he took of his leg last week. No, Hughes' biggest problem, Gardenhire said, cropped up last night. Concerned that the Twins were left with only two position players on the bench, Hughes approached Gardenhire in the dugout, the manager said, with some distressing news.
"His greatest concern was that he didn't have his batting helmet, and we don't have another helmet big enough to fit his head," Gardenhire said. "He came up to me and told me I couldn't use him as a pinch-hitter."
Whew. Bullet dodged. Gardenhire somehow got through the game without calliing upon a starting pitcher to pinch-hit, something he's done, what, maybe a half-dozen times in his career? Gardenhire jokingly ordered the equipment staff to have Hughes' helmet shipped to Chicago for the end of the road trip. But mostly, he was amused at the thought that Hughes' size 8 head is too big for normal helmets.
"It's a Bochy head," Gardenhire joked, referring to Giants manager Bruce Bochy's famous oversized head. Hughes needs "a tank helmet, put it that way."
Meanwhile, here are the lineups for tonight's game, as the Twins try to win their third straight: