Hank Steinbrenner, son of New York Yankees owner George, made it clear Wednesday that the club still has some interest in making a deal for Twins lefthander Johan Santana, but there is not a unanimous opinion among club officials whether they should pay the Twins' asking price.

"At this point I think that it kind of looks like we probably won't do it, but that doesn't mean I don't want to," Hank said. "I'm kind of back and forth on it, and some people don't want to do it because of the money."

Hank said the Yankees would not give Santana a seven-year guaranteed contract calling for $140 million.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager, and Hank's brother, Hal, also are not willing to give away a lot of young talent to get Santana.

"Just strictly because of the money, they are advising not to," Hank said. "But ... nobody would ever say 'don't do it' as far as getting Santana because nobody could say that. He's one of the two best pitchers in baseball, but I'm running into resistance.

"I think we could get him, but it's just a matter [of what] to give up. Certainly we don't want to give up [righthander] Phil Hughes and [center fielder] Melky Cabrera, but you know, look what you're getting.

"... It really comes down to if I want to do it, I can do it, but I want to try and keep everybody happy. I think the situation's probably the same in Boston. I think John Henry, the owner there, wants to do it. He wants to get him, too, but others don't. So he's just trying to keep everybody happy.

"I don't want to say what I would give, because Minnesota will claim I'm tampering. Yes, the door definitely isn't completely closed."

Hank said he believes the Mets are serious about trying to trade for Santana. "I think they may need him worse than we do or the Red Sox do," he said. "It's just a matter of do they have what it takes to trade for him."

I also had a nice talk with George following my conversation with Hank. He seemed to know what is going on, despite rumors to the contrary.

Wittman stays upbeat

You would think Randy Witt- man is suffering while coaching a Timberwolves team that has won only five games. But Wittman says otherwise, because he sees hope in the young players on the team.

"I played with [Celtics coach] Doc Rivers in Atlanta when we were teammates together, and we're still very close friends," Wittman said. "They came in here last year with an [17]-game losing streak, and we beat them when Ricky Davis hits a shot at the buzzer to make it [18] straight losses for his team. So I went and talked with him after the game and he was as upbeat and jovial as ever.

"I said to myself, 'How can you be like this after [18] straight?' And we were struggling at that time, if you remember last year, going through what we went through with our team that we had here.

"And he said, 'I would much rather be coaching this team with these young guys and the way they work and things, than coach your team.'"

The Wolves at the time had Kevin Garnett and some non-producing veterans such as Mike James and Troy Hudson.

Wittman talked about the benefits of coaching his young players, even they are struggling to win a game.

"There is some satisfaction. Yeah, you get discouraged and trust me, this is all about wins and losses," Wittman said. "I know that more than anybody, but it's also about, are you trying to strive to get the best out of what you have? And I truly believe these guys are doing that and we're getting that out of them most nights and they come in here every day resilient."

Wittman looked back to last week, when the team had a terrible performance in a 113-82 defeat in Houston on Friday and bounced back the next night to play the Spurs right to the end before losing 105-88.

"We bounced back from one of our poorest performances in Houston and come back the very next night -- no practice time, no nothing, no sleep -- and really came out and took San Antonio's first punches and [were up 45-44] going into halftime.

"That's the type of guys these are: They're resilient, they bounce back, they're ready to fight."

Well, as Wittman pointed out, the Miami Heat -- with two future Hall of Fame players in center Shaquille O'Neal and guard Dwyane Wade -- have only eight victories, three more than the Wolves. So maybe there is hope.


They honored "Mr. Hockey," Lou Nanne, with the coveted Bobby Jones Sportsmanship award at Interlachen Country Club in Edina on Wednesday. The award is named after the great golfer who won the 1930 U.S. Open at Interlachen as part of golf's first Grand Slam (then consisting of the U.S. and British Opens and the U.S. and British Amateurs). Few local citizens have done more for this community than Nanne, so the award is well-deserved.

Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, will be at the East-West game in San Francisco this week.

Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith has a lot of respect for guard Lawrence McKenzie, who has been playing hurt and performed well in the 76-73 comeback victory at Penn State on Saturday.

"He's got a bad hand, but he's getting better," Smith said. "It's just a strained tendon in his right index finger, that's his shooting hand. And that's the finger that really controls your shot, your middle finger and your index finger. So, he's been gutting it up and playing extremely well."

Tonight's Gophers game with Indiana and Sunday's game with Michigan State are going to be the first real sellouts at Williams Arena in some time. Only obstructed seats remain.

There were four Gophers assistant football coaches at the home of Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau running back LaMichael James. Tim Brewster and company might be on the verge of getting a commitment of one of the top running backs in Texas.

Why did new Wild owner Craig Leipold sell the Nashville Predators if he was such a big hockey fan?

"Well it was just time to move on in Nashville," he said. "We had done a lot, we had a great team on the ice, the fans were great, and they were loud. The corporate support was not where we thought it should be and, frankly, I thought local ownership was what was needed to take that team to the next level. What's happened in Nashville is exactly that, new guys came in, all local guys, they bought the team and I'm real excited for what's going to happen in Nashville now."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com