The Twins have not been scoring many runs lately, as in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox in the Metrodome.

But one reason the Twins are 11-4 in their past 15 games is outfielder Denard Span, who finished the month of August with a .375 batting average, sixth-best in the American League for players with more than 20 at-bats in that stretch.

Span, who got three of the Twins' 10 hits Wednesday, had a .458 on-base percentage for August, the best in the American League among players appearing in more than 11 games during the month.

There is lot of talk about signing Joe Mauer to a long-term contract before the star catcher is a free agent at the end of next year.

Well, Span is a future superstar and when he becomes eligible for arbitration a couple years from now, he is going to cost the Twins a lot of money if he continues to play at his present pace. He is being paid $435,000 this season.

Span was tied for third with the Angels' Kendry Morales for hits (42) in the AL in August, behind the Yankees' Derek Jeter (46) and Mauer (45).

As a leadoff hitter, Span is hitting .310, first in the league, his .395 on-base percentage is fourth and his eight triples are first.

Span has at least one hit in 14 of his past 15 games. He has struck out only 73 times in 466 at-bats.

Not only is Span a great hitter, but no matter where he plays, he is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

Brewster high on team

While some experts have picked the Gophers as low as ninth in the Big Ten, third-year football coach Tim Brewster is convinced his team is going to be the surprise of the conference.

Brewster believes these Gophers, who open at Syracuse on Saturday, are the deepest of the teams he has coached here.

"We've had a great camp," Brewster said. "And anybody who has watched our practices has seen our great energy. I like the development of our football team from a depth movement and from an athletic standpoint.

"[But] are we 100 percent where we need to be? Absolutely not."

The Gophers plan to sign about 30 recruits next year, and Brewster says that class will be the key to putting the team over the top as far as depth. They have 28 seniors on the team.

According to ESPN, the Gophers will play the 10th-toughest schedule in the country this season.

If this team was playing last year's easier schedule, it would be a different story. But I still believe this team will score some big upsets.

Leddy's big year

Gophersports.com reports that few individuals have had a year like Nick Leddy, who led Eden Prairie to the Class 2A hockey title, was named Mr. Hockey, will play for the Gophers this fall and was the first-round draft choice of the Wild (16th overall). Leddy was asked about his recent experience at U.S. Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"It was a test but it was really good," he told gophersports.com. "[Teammates Aaron] Ness, [Jordan] Schroeder and [Zach] Budish were there and we all made the first cut, so we got to stay an extra seven days. It was a long camp, but it was fun."

Jottings

In order to try and convince Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker to sign a baseball contract after being drafted in the 27th round, the Twins were willing to spread Decker's signing bonus over five years, something Major League Baseball allows teams pursuing multisport athletes to do. That still didn't interest Decker, who is going to concentrate on football.

Gophers baseball coach John Anderson said arrangements have been made with Metrodome management to play the team's entire 2010 schedule in the Dome. No games will be played at Siebert Field, and the hope is that ground will be broken there soon for a new college baseball stadium.

The Lions signed former Vikings quarterback Brooks Bollinger to a contract Tuesday. Now Detroit has Daunte Culpepper, another former Viking who might be the starter, and Bollinger.

Ben Utecht, the former Gophers tight end who played on the Colts' Super Bowl-winning team following the 2006 season and then signed as a free agent with the Bengals last year, is out for the season after suffering a concussion. Utecht, a talented musician who released a CD of Christian music last spring, might give up football and concentrate on his hobby.

The Gophers basketball team is rated 19th by ESPN.com and 17th by CBSsports.com. In the fall basketball tournament the Gophers will play in Anaheim, Calif. Other teams include West Virginia and Butler, ranked No. 9 and 15, respectively, by ESPN.

Taikwon Paige, the former Georgia Military College outstanding defensive back who committed to the Gophers and then followed U former defensive coordinator Ted Roof to Auburn, couldn't qualify and is not on the football team.

Tyler Oakes, the former Gophers pitcher who was signed by Tampa Bay as a free agent, finished the season with the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League with a 2-0 record and a 3.82 ERA. One of his teammates was Gene Glynn Jr., son of the longtime baseball coach and scout. Glynn Jr. hit .253 for Princeton.

Three former Tartan basketball players have signed to play overseas this season: Eric Coleman with Leche Rio Breogan in Spain, Urule Igbavboa with MEG Goettingen in Germany and Lamont Mack with AEK in Greece.

Former Montana basketball player Matt Martin, who was one of the outstanding players this summer performing for the Errol Carlstrom Playaz in the Howard Pulley League, has been hired as an assistant video coordinator for the Detroit Pistons.

Steve Nelson, longtime New England Patriots star from North Dakota State and Anoka, has been named a linebacker on the all-time Patriots team, in honor the club's 50th anniversary.

Justin Faulk (South St. Paul) and Derek Forbort (Duluth East) were named to the National Under-18 team in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team will compete in the USHL this season, as well as international competitions.

Grand Rapids native and former Gophers forward Patrick White's NHL rights were traded from Vancouver to San Jose on Friday as part of a four-player deal. He was selected by Vancouver in the first round of the 2007 NHL draft and had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 36 games during his second season with the Gophers last year.

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 www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com