Mike Berardino / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—On the bright, sunny day when he formally retired and rejoined the Minnesota Twins as a special assistant in their front office, Justin Morneau spoke eloquently and at some length about gratitude and humility and family and how it "takes a village" to raise a big leaguer. He remembered honing his left-handed swing in wiffleball games with his boyhood buddies back in New Westminster, British Columbia, and trying to clear the evergreen trees in his back yard — "our Green Monster."
MINNEAPOLIS—Much has changed since the last time the Portland Trail Blazers visited Target Center nearly a month ago. On Sunday night, Jan. 14, a 120-103 blowout in the rematch gave the Minnesota Timberwolves 12 wins in their past 15 games, including that comeback win from a 10-point hole in the final seven minutes against Portland on Dec. 18. Yet there was no cosmic click that took place that night, coach Tom Thibodeau insisted, even as the laughers have piled up for his first-place team.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins closer Fernando Rodney is due to appear next weekend at TwinsFest. Considering his shaky performance in the Dominican Winter League, he must be looking forward to the warm embrace of his new fan base. Wednesday, Jan., 10, marked Rodney's fourth outing for Escogido in the round-robin playoffs. Just one of those appearances has been scoreless, leaving Rodney with a 15.00 earned-run average, six walks and four hits allowed through three innings.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are hopeful of a resolution before spring training opens next month in Major League Baseball's investigation of allegations against third baseman Miguel Sano. "Right now Major League Baseball is conducting their investigation," Twins general manager Thad Levine said Thursday, Jan. 11, during an appearance on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. "We've been asked to kind of stand down and allow that process to unfold. We're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When Fernando Rodney visited Target Field with the Arizona Diamondbacks last August, the veteran closer made sure to chat with Twins pitcher/marvel Bartolo Colon. Rodney, four years younger than his Dominican Republic countryman, had a question for Colon. "I asked him, 'Hey, how long are you going to be here?' I look young in front of you," Rodney said with a laugh during a teleconference on Friday, Dec. 15. "He said, 'I don't know, Rodney. I feel good. I think I know how to pitch. I know how to get outs.'"
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Twins manager Paul Molitor has yet to make one of his many recruiting calls to free-agent pitching ace Yu Darvish, but he did acknowledge the team's "tremendous interest" in the Japanese star. "It's going to be a tremendous get for whoever has the opportunity to get his name on a contract," Molitor said Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, at baseball's winter meetings. "He's still out there. We'll see what happens."
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Michael Pineda probably won't pitch again until 2019, but the Twins saw enough upside in the towering former New York Yankees right-hander to sign him to a two-year, $10 million deal Wednesday, Dec. 13. Pineda's deal carries a maximum value of $3 million in potential bonuses, according to a person with direct knowledge. He will make $2 million while rehabbing for the bulk if not all of 2018, followed by $8 million in 2019.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Yu Darvish, the Japanese star right-hander considered the best available starting pitcher on a slow-moving free-agent market, has been doing his homework on potential employers. That includes the Twins, whose general manager, Thad Levine, has publicly called signing Darvish a "priority." Levine was assistant GM with the Texas Rangers during Darvish's first five seasons in North America and has spoken with him multiple times this offseason.
MINNEAPOLIS—The ByungHo Park experiment appears to be over. According to a person with direct knowledge, the disappointing slugger has asked the Twins for his release so he can return home to the Korea Baseball Organization. The Twins are expected to grant Park his release, but the person cautioned Sunday night, Nov. 26, that talks were ongoing and "it will be a while before it is all worked out."
MINNEAPOLIS — As the Minnesota Twins weigh the merits of diving back into the risky market for free-agent starting pitching, a parallel consideration of perhaps even greater importance will be extensions for talented young players already on their roster.