There was bad news for the Twins this week when it was discovered that closer Joe Nathan likely will need Tommy John surgery and be out for the season.

And then there is the concern about catcher Joe Mauer not being signed beyond this season.

Rest assured, and this comes from the Twins, there will be no trade of Joe Mauer, even if negotiations continue through the season.

On the positive side, team president Dave St. Peter said he thinks the team could sell out all of its games at Target Field before the first game is played. That would mean the club's second season attendance of 3 million.

The team will pass the 22,000 season-ticket mark before the end of next week, leaving only about 17,000 tickets per game to sell.

St. Peter gave me a full tour of the stadium Thursday.

You have to sing the praises of everyone, including Jerry Bell, St. Peter and Mortenson Construction because I don't believe there is a better stadium anywhere.

I'm convinced that once fans attend a game at Target Field, they will battle to get tickets to come back. This is a magnificent building that doesn't lack anything.

You also have to compliment the Pohlad family for chipping in a lot of extra bucks to do things that made this place a Taj Mahal.

I'm also convinced that once politicians and others in power visit Target Field, it will help them find a way to build a stadium for the Vikings.

Lucia doing OK

This has not been a great Gophers hockey season. Minnesota is 17-17-2 and needs to win two of three on the road against a more talented North Dakota team to advance to the WCHA Final Five.

But coach Don Lucia, who is familiar with the criticism of some of the hockey geniuses, points out the 10 banners that have gone up in Mariucci Arena under his watch for five WCHA regular-season or Final Five titles, three regional championships and two national titles.

The longtime Gophers coach also points out that only three college teams have won more games than Minnesota in the 10 years he has been coach of the Gophers.

Lucia isn't the type to look for excuses, but the team has been hit with a number of injuries to key players.

"Yeah, we've had from [Jay] Barriball being out for the year, to [Nick] Leddy with the broken jaw, to losing [Taylor] Matson to surgery the second half of the year.

"But that's going to happen, and it's our job to try to pump up some other guys into those holes. I think the great thing about our group of guys is they've had a terrific attitude all year long. They've come to the rink, they've worked every day. I do feel like we have not been rewarded in some games for playing well when we could have won, but the bottom line is you have to win games. And by just winning three or four games this year, up till now, we'd be in the position we want to be in at the end of the year."

Lucia was happy with the way the team played in splitting a series last weekend with Wisconsin, and he was glad to see the seniors bow out in a positive way in their last game, a 6-1 victory, in Mariucci Arena.

Lucia said playing at North Dakota is a big challenge.

"They've got a good team," he said. "Obviously it's a very difficult place to play, it's a big rival. We're 1-1-2 with them. Obviously we're going to play to a winner, there will be no ties at this time of the season, but we're looking forward to it. It'll be a great challenge, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how guys are going to perform and play out there."

Lucia still is being treated for sarcoidosis, an auto-immune disease.

"I still get treatments every four weeks right now and with steroids," he said. "In July I'm going to go back to [the] Mayo [Clinic], and the plan is to stop the treatments at that point in time and gauge and see what happens after that."

Jottings

The Pohlads are going to give all Mortenson Construction employees who worked on Target Field free tickets to one of the two exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1 and 2.

Rhys Lloyd, the former Gophers kicker who has signed a two-year contract for $545,000 a year with the Vikings, told Vikings officials he left the Carolina Panthers because Minnesota still was home for him in the offseason. Lloyd led the NFL in touchbacks in 2008 with 30 and tied for fourth last season with 21.

Former Gophers wide receiver Eric Decker had surgery recently to remove a steel plate from his foot. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN rates Decker the fifth-best wide receiver in the 2010 draft.

Two-time state wrestling champion Drew Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo High School has verbally committed to the Gophers. Lexvold won the Class 1A state title this year at 130 pounds and won the Class 1A 125-pound state title in 2009.

Hopkins alum Trent Lockett was named to the Pac-10 all-freshman team after starting 15 of 31 games for Arizona State. The 6-5 guard averaged 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game during the regular season for the Sun Devils, who are 22-9 and one of the few Pac-10 teams in contention for an NCAA tournament berth. He posted double-digit scoring numbers in five Pac-10 contests, including 17 points, six boards and eight assists on Jan. 30 against Stanford, the team the Sun Devils faced in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night. ... Former Osseo standout Sam Dower, a 6-9 forward, is redshirting this year for Gonzaga, which lost in the West Coast Conference final to St. Mary's (Calif.) on Monday but still figures to earn another NCAA tournament berth Sunday.

The return of former Gophers defenseman and Minnesota native Paul Martin to the New Jersey Devils lineup keeps getting pushed back. Martin, who suffered a fractured left forearm on Oct. 24, told NHL.com that he now hopes to play in about two weeks after 4 1/2 months of rehabilitation. Incidentally, Martin will be a free agent after the season.

For the third consecutive year, the entire 53-man Vikings roster and coach Brad Childress participated in some community outreach event. Brad Madson, the Vikings' executive director of community relations, does a fantastic job.

Gophers men's gymnast gymnast Harrison Coleman was named freshman of the week after recording a first-place finish and two 15-plus performances against Penn State and Temple last weekend.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com