Steve Hutchinson, one of the leaders on the Vikings team, says there is complete confidence in Tarvaris Jackson doing the job at quarterback Sunday against Arizona if Gus Frerotte is unable to play because of a back problem

"[Jackson] knew he was one play from getting in," Hutchinson said. "He kept himself sharp, and I think it showed last week on the field."

"Any guy we have in there to play is going to compete really hard," the offensive lineman added. "Gus does have the advantage in experience, but I think Tarvaris has been in enough now to know what the situation calls for and what he has to do."

Hutchinson said if the Vikings are worried about one game, it's Sunday's matchup on the road against the Cardinals.

"They're a great defense, they're a team that already clinched their division," he said. "It's a tough place to play, and they're a great all-around team. We're going to have our work cut out for us against them at home this week. ... It's a newer stadium, they're having success this year, and I think everybody's excited out there for them."

Punting no problem They talk about the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks hitting more home runs because of the high altitude making the ball carry farther.

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe believes the altitude will have a positive effect on his punting Sunday.

"It's a little bit warmer for one thing, but Arizona is just a great place to kick because the air is usually pretty hot and pretty dry. And so the ball is going to go an extra five, six, seven yards further than it normally would," he said. "It's just comfortable to kick there because you stay warm the whole game, you don't have to worry about keeping your legs warm, as opposed to Chicago or Green Bay or something like that, where it's a constant struggle to stay warm throughout the game. But, it's just a great place to kick."

Will he kick any differently in Arizona?

"No, don't do anything different," he said. "No, no -- if anything it makes you more eager to go out there and kick because you know the ball is going to go further."

And by the way: Since the Vikings brought in four punters for tryouts when the former UCLA star was in slump, Kluwe has been the best punter in the league.

Sox in the spring The Twins will play the Boston five times in spring training, starting with the first game Feb. 25. The Red Sox, last season's wild-card winner, are always a strong attraction, and also train in Fort Myers, Fla.

The one unique thing about the schedule is that the Twins will play host to the Yankees twice in Fort Myers on Feb. 27 and March 20. They will also play the Yankees twice on the road Feb. 28 and March 15. They play Tampa Bay, the AL pennant-winner, three times in spring.

Jottings There was a feeling among Gophers coaches that offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar might leave when coach Tim Brewster put Tim Davis in charge of the running game and offensive line. But Dunbar said he is happy with the change, and that he and Davis already are working together on their respective responsibilities.

The University of Minnesota released its list of the 100 highest-paid employees, and six Gophers coaches make the list: 1. Tubby Smith, men's basketball head coach, ($630,000); 5. Brewster, ($408,000); 19. Ted Roof, football defensive coordinator, ($300,000); 27. Pam Borton, women's basketball head coach, ($285,000); 37. Dunbar, ($270,000); 62. Don Lucia, men's hockey head coach, ($241,196).

Athletic director Joel Maturi is 10th at $336,250.

The only first-year Gophers football players who saw action this year were: running backs DeLeon Eskridge and Shady Salamon; receivers Brandon Green and Brodrick Smith; defensive backs Tramaine Brock and Traye Simmons; defensive end Cedric McKinley; special teamers Johnny Johnson, Tim Dandridge and Rex Sharpe.

The last two games of the 2009 Gophers football schedule will not be against Wisconsin and Iowa. Instead, the Gophers will play South Dakota State on Nov. 14 before wrapping up the season in Iowa City the following week. The Gophers play Wisconsin at home Oct. 9. The rest of the schedule is: at Syracuse on Sept. 5; Air Force at home Sept. 12; California at home Sept. 19; at Northwestern on Sept. 26; Purdue at home Oct. 10; at Penn State on Oct. 17; at Ohio State on Oct. 24, Michigan State at home Oct. 31; and Illinois at home Nov. 7.

Starting in 1992, when Dennis Green was named Vikings coach, former head coaches and assistants on the Vikings staff have not done well in the NFL. Green was dismissed here and went to Arizona before leaving there. Mike Tice replaced Green as Vikings coach and later was fired. Tice's offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan became the Rams coach and was fired thid year. The two exceptions are Brian Billick and Tony Dungy, who won Super Bowls with Baltimore and Indianapolis. And even then, Billick was fired last year and Dungy was fired by Tampa Bay before moving on to the Colts.

Mike Martz, a Gophers assistant under Joe Salem in 1982 who is now the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator, reportedly interviewed for the San Diego State job. Also interviewed was former Gopher DeWayne Walker, who is a UCLA assistant, where his son plays. Former Gophers associate athletic director Jeff Schemmel is the athletic director at San Diego State.

Former Twins pitchers Jim Perry, Camilo Pascual, Mudcat Grant and Brad Radke are among the favorites to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame during the 2009 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said in an interview on the Pirates' website recently that he would like to bring back Doug Mientkiewicz, a free agent. The former Twins first baseman hit .277 in 285 at-bats for Pittsburgh this year, playing third and first base as well as the outfield. Huntington said Mientkiewicz provided "quality leadership and energy, but it will come down to finding a common ground on role, playing time and salary."

Local author Ross Bern- stein has two new books available, one on former Minnesota North Star Dave Hanson titled "Slap Shot Original" and the other titled "Sixty Years & Sixty Heroes," a look at Minnesota sports personalities over the past decades.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at