Wrote about O-Dog for the Sunday paper. I'm back at the ballpark Sunday afternoon, as well.

Columnists are often accused of being negative, and often we are. That's a big part of the job description, being willing and able to express opinions that teams, players, and fans might strongly object to.

There's really nothing more fun, though, than covering a good baseball team. Because unlike in football, the games aren't billed as armageddon and you don't necessarily have to write about one player (like the quarterback.) Any one of 25 guys - or 30 if you consider how many players actually contribute during a season - could be pivotal on any day.

Saturday, it was Orlando Hudson hitting the game-winning homer and Brian Duensing relieving Nick Blackburn to get the victory.

I'm hearing Blackburn has a sore elbow. The Twins are downplaying the severity of the injury, saying he'll start next Saturday, but most elbow problems turn out to be more serious than anyone lets on at the outset. Beware.

Blackburn had lousy location all game, and that's not like him. Pitching coach Rick Anderson said Blackburn fell behind in spring training because of a knee problem, and that might have led to him developing arm soreness.

-Funny thing about Joe Mauer's season. He's hitting .341, yet most of his hard-hit balls have been caught. He's crushed a half-dozen liners at Target Field that have died in gloves. He does have a knack for finding softer-hit balls to land.

Mauer and Morneau are both hitting .341. THEY ALWAYS HAVE TO BE TOGETHER!

-You probably haven't even noticed, but Matt Guerrier has a 0 era. It's early, but is there anyone in the bullpen you trust more than this guy?

-Every time Gardenhire puts Jim Thome in the lineup, I cringe, because I'd rather see Delmon Young and Jason Kubel playing every day. And everytime Gardy puts Thome in the lineup, Thome seems to produce.

He crushed a homer to center on Saturday, and his teammates continue to rave about his presence in the clubhouse.

-St. Paul columnist Tom Powers, eager to encourage Joe Mauer to emerge from the back rooms to do interviews so we could all go home before dark, bet Gardy that Mauer would be at his locker within five minutes.

Gardy, never one to pass up a winning bet, said, ``I'll take care of this,'' and marched into the back and told Mauer not to come out for six minutes.

Yes, Gardenhire won the bet.

-I wrote the first few days of the season that Brian Duensing will be a key to this team, and with Jose Mijares on the disabled list, Pat Neshek dealing with finger soreness and now Blackburn hurting, that is coming true faster than I could have imagined.

One of the X factors in any season is whether one utility pitcher will have a big effect on his team, like Tony Fiore on the 2002 Twins. Duensing is already 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, and he has shown the ability to pitch in any situation.

-I'm soliciting possible band names for the group I'm putting together to play at O'Gara's on May 20. ESPN1500 news man John Heidt is the lead guitarist, and he's recruiting a drummer and bass player, and TD Mischke is going to sit in with us on at least a few numbers.

I need a good radio/sports/music kind of band name. I'm thinking about ``Bumper Music,'' but that's just my first guess.

If you have any ideas, email me at jsouhan@startribune.com

-Brad Lane and I will conduct the Ron Gardenhire Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon at the talk box near the rightfield plaza tomorrow morning. We have a few guests lined up, although the Twins' batting practice schedule will make getting a player a challenge. Michael Cuddyer has agreed to come on; we just have to catch him at the right time.

-My twitter name is Souhanstrib.

 

 

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