Righthander Carl Pavano arrived at the winter meetings on Tuesday and met with several teams - including the Twins.

The Twins feel they have a real shot to keep the veteran hurler - and he really wants to stay. He's told several players and team officials of his desire to remain a Twin, suggesting that the Twins just have to offer him something reasonable to stay.

``We had a very productive meeting today," agent Tom O'Connell said. ``Like I said, stay tuned."

Smith, assistant GM Rob Antony and senior adviser Terry Ryan took part in the meeting, held in the club's suite at the Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Pavano also met with several other teams, including the Nationals.

Pavano posted a 31-23 record and has averaged 210 innings over the past two seasons as a member of a playoff-caliber team. He's proven his durability and can cash in as the best free agent starting pitcher not named Cliff Lee.

He compares favorably to lefthander Ted Lilly, a lefthander who, like Pavano, is 34 years old and already has signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the Dodgers.

``This week is where these pictures get crystallized,'' O'Connell said.

On Tuesday, Smith eloquently explained how he could hold out hope to keep Pavano when the righthander is in line for a big-time payday.

``Some of the more veteran players, they are going to decide where they are going to play,'' Smith said. ``Players who have made lots of money in this game, I think might have different priorities than younger players who are getting their first crack at it.


The Twins did not speak with the agents for Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka on Tuesday. And no talks are scheduled for Wednesday.

Interesting. But the Twins still hope to sign the middle infielder, who batted .346 for the Chiba Lotte Marines last season. The deadline to sign him is Dec. 26, and no one seems worried.

These negotiations could be a little more involved. For instance, I learned today that most MLB contracts with Japanese players include X amount of round-trip tickets for players and their families to fly to and from Japan. Maybe the Twins are trying to work out a deal with Delta for a price break (joking).

Anyway, the Japanese media here are keenly interested in the negotiations. So much that a TV crew interviewed ME about Nishioka possibly joining the Twins.

At the end of the interview, the host said: ``Now we need you to look into the camera and deliver a personal message to Nishioka."

Nervously, I said: ``Um, I hope negotiations go well and I look forward to covering you, especially since the Twins have never had a Japanese player. And don't worry about the weather. The snow will be gone by April" (lying)


The Twins have touched base with Jim Thome's agent and still hope to sign him. In what seemed to be an attempt at a longer contract. Thome told FOX's Ken Rosenthal that he thinks he has two more years in him.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, because of a family emergency, will not be able to attend the winter meetings. He was scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday.

Cleveland is interested in Nick Punto.

There is a belief here that all the Royals are doing at the winter meetings is gauging how much interest there is in Zack Greinke and really have no intentions of dealing him right now. Still, the Twins remain in touch. I just don't see how they can put together a package to get Greinke without bringing in a third team.


This is how hard is can be to get information out of Twins GM Bill Smith at times. The following exchange is brought to you by Flummoxall, when your harmless question gets nowhere.

Me: ``Is (Carlos) Gutierrez going to be a reliever now?"

Smith: ``It will be up to the manager and the coaches. He's done both."

Me: ``I'm sorry. I thought this was discussed at the organizational meetings." (it was)

Smith: ``We did. We may or may not decide to share it with you."

My goodness! It's like Dennis Green took over Smith's body.