You can't use the word ``bravery'' in sports without separating athletic bravery from real-life bravery. You can't compare what athletes do to what soldiers and firefighters do.

But there is an element of bravery in sports, and Denard Span and Orlando Hudson displayed plenty of it late Sunday night.

Jon Rauch came on for the Twins with a three-run lead in the ninth. With two on and two out, Vlad Guerrero hit a fly to shallow center. Hudson sprinted back. Span sprinted in. They both dove for the ball. Hudson hit Span in a sensitive area. Span's leg caught Hudson's left wrist.

Both lay on the ground in pain. After a few moments, Span rose. Hudson stayed down longer, finally getting up and walking off the field without help.

It was a strange and worrisome way to end a pretty good homestand.

Target Field continues to shine. The place is just beautiful. The Twins are 30-20 and in first place. (My column for the Monday paper points out that the Twins are off to one of their best two-month starts in recent history, and I give much of the credit to Hudson and shortstop J.J. Hardy for solidifying two positions that have been in flux for most of the past eight years.)

But Hudson and manager Ron Gardenhire seemed worried about Hudson's wrist after the game. I asked Span if he was worried about Hudson, and Span quietly said, ``Yeah...Yeah, I am.''

One reason Hudson and Hardy have been so pivotal is that the Twins just don't have much depth at those positions, especially with Brendan Harris struggling. Now either Harris or Alexi Casilla may be called on to play second every day. Because Harris is struggling and isn't known for his ability to turn the doubleplay, I would expect Casilla to get the call if Hudson can't play on Monday.

-The Twins' hitters can complain about the home runs they're losing in Target Field, but a home-field advantage is a home-field advantage. The Twins are 18-9 at home.

-I played club lacrosse for years, and the Duke-Virginia national semifinal on Saturday was one of the best games I've ever seen. Or at least one of the best finishes, with Duke scoring in the final seconds to beat No. 1-ranked Virginia.

Duke plays Notre Dame on Monday for the national title.

-I'm taking vacation time from the newspaper the next couple of weeks, so this space will probably be pretty slow for a while.

-My pick: Lakers in 7. I just feel that Kobe  Bryant will find a way to win enough close games to win the series, and that the Lakers will be better prepared for the Celtics after losing to them two years ago. But what I really hope for is more post-game interviews with Ron Artest, just so I can see that vacant look in his eyes. Priceless.

-I've been told that Kyle Waldrop is the minor-league pitcher the Twins think can be of most immediate help. I could see Jeff Manship being added as a long man. With Brian Duensing and Jose Mijares looking good, Ron Mahay may not have a role as an extra lefty.

-Hockey pick: Chicago in five. I think Chicago has an edge in goaltending and goal-scoring, plus home-ice. For once I think the better team wins a postseason hockey series.

-For what it's worth, after all the discussion of Yankee superiority, the Twins and Yankees have exactly the same record.

-Is it just me, or does a football player leave the Gophers every five minutes? I have a feeling Tim Brewster's last season is going to be a disaster.

-I still don't see this season ending well for Jon Rauch. He is very hittable. I give him credit for throwing strikes, but I'm afraid those strikes are going to start landing in bleachers with more regularity.

-Is there a better setup man in the game than Matt Guerrier? He's durable, dependable, he wants the ball, he pitches with guile and intelligence, and he's even been affordable. The Twins will have to spend some money on him this winter. This is one guy they can't allow to leave.



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Rainy night at Target Field

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