MINNEAPOLIS — With the All-Star Game now in the rearview mirror, the July 31 Trade Deadline looms for the Twins, who are expected to be sellers after losing 12 of 15 entering the break.
First baseman Justin Morneau and closer Glen Perkins are the club’s two biggest trade chips but Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he’ll listen in on any potential offers for any of the club’s players. Others who could be available include veteran right-handers Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia and veteran utility infielder Jamey Carroll.
Morneau, who is making $14 million this season in the last year of a six-year deal signed in 2008, said he’s trying his best to ignore all the trade rumors surrounding him.
“It’s out of my control,” Morneau said. “I’m not too worried about it. If it happens, I’ll deal with it. If not, I’m happy to play here.”
Morneau added that his camp has not been contacted by the Twins about a possible extension and that he has six teams on a limited no-trade clause but none of the six teams are among those listed as potential suitors. Teams reportedly interested in Morneau are the Yankees, Rays, Pirates, Orioles and Red Sox.
Morneau also wouldn’t say if he’d re-sign with the Twins this off-season if he were dealt, as he didn’t want to deal with any hypothetical questions just yet. But he did say that if it were up to him, he’d stay with Minnesota.
“I think it’s more rewarding to win with the organization you’ve grown up with and the people that you almost become a family with,” said Morneau, who has played with the Twins since ‘03. “It’s a place where I’m happy and we’ve won here, which is always the goal. But it’s not up to me, so we’ll see what happens.”
TORONTO — Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins have known each other since Little League, and now the two Minnesota natives will be heading to New York to represent the Twins in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16.
Mauer was voted in by the fans as the starting catcher for the American League for the fourth time in his career while Perkins was chosen by Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, who will serve as manager for the AL squad.
It marks the sixth career All-Star Game selection for Mauer, who hails from St. Paul, and the first for Perkins, who grew up in nearby Stillwater, Minn.
“It’s an awesome deal,” Mauer said. “Obviously to bring a teammate like Glen — we go way back — is really special. So I’m very excited. I’m probably more excited for him but I’m just excited about everything.”
Mauer said he first met Perkins when they were about 12 years old and they really got to know each other when they were both selected to the Metro East Lions All-Star team as high school seniors in ’01.
Mauer was drafted by the Twins as the No. 1 overall pick that summer while Perkins went off to the University of Minnesota and became a first-round pick in ’04. They’ve been teammates on the Twins since ’06 and also played for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
“I think it still hasn’t sunk in,” Perkins said. “It’s a goal that everyone has once they play in the Major Leagues. I think more than anything, I’m excited to go with Joe. We’ve known each other for a long time and it’s been pretty well-documented this year what we’ve been through. So this is another chapter for that. So it’s pretty neat.”
TORONTO — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had seen enough.
He saw his players being too uptight during their recent skid and decided it was time to hold a team meeting after yet another defeat on Friday night.
The post-game speech came after Kevin Correia was tormented by Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who provided two RBIs — one on a solo homer — to hand the Twins a 4-0 loss Rogers Centre. It extended the Twins’ losing streak to six games, as they’ve now lost 11 of their last 14.
“It seems like the air goes out of us too quick,” Gardenhire said. “We need to rebound better. I told the boys this is baseball and they’re making it like a job right now. That was the message for them tonight — it’s baseball and we’re going to have some fun. These guys are working their tails off. They got out there and do everything they can but the games aren’t clicking for us so we need to go back to relaxing and having fun.”
Correia, who gave up four runs on 10 hits and three walk over six innings to get pegged with the loss, said Gardenhire’s postgame message was well-received by his teammates.
“We’re just trying to stay loose,” Correia said. “I think your first instinct when things aren’t going good is to tense up and try to force something to happen. But that isn’t a good way to play baseball. We need be loose and have a good time. That’s how you usually play your best.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Darin Mastroianni said Thursday his left ankle is continuing to improve and that he’s set to leave for the Twins’ Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. on Sunday.
Mastroianni, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a left ankle stress reaction, will continue to do his rehab work in Florida until he’s ready to start a rehab assignment. But Mastroianni said there’s still no official timetable for his return.
“I’ll be starting basically a mini-Spring Training,” Mastroianni said. “I’m not ready to play in games. So it’s going to take a little while to get my legs underneath me and get into playing shape. So hopefully it won’t take too long and I can get rocking and rolling. But we don’t know how the ankle is going to react. So it just depends on when I get in that first rehab game. We’ll play it by ear.”
Mastroianni has been taking batting practice at Target Field for the last week and said he’s continued to notice an improvement in his ankle.
“It’s not so much a concern about the swing right now it’s just more about how it feels and if there’s pain on the weight transfer,” Mastroianni said. “But it feels good right now. Each day has gotten a little bit better with that.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins placed Josh Willingham on the 15-day day disabled list with a medial meniscus tear and bone bruise in his left knee on Tuesday. Center fielder Aaron Hicks was activated from the 15-day DL to take Willingham’s place on the roster.
Willingham has been dealing with soreness in his left knee all season and tweaked his knee on Friday. He was held out of the lineup on Saturday and Sunday but did deliver an RBI ground-rule double as a pinch-hitter on Sunday.
He was in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the Yankees but was a late scratch after feeling discomfort in his knee while trying to run before the game. The DL move is retroactive to Monday.
Willingham, 34, is hitting .224/.356/.398 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 70 games. He had an MRI exam on Tuesday morning that showed the meniscus tear and bone bruise.
Hicks, meanwhile, was originally placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring on June 10. He hit .190 with a double and two RBIs in six games as part of his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester.