Morneau addresses Trade Deadline rumors

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.”

Mauer, Perkins to represent Twins in All-Star Game

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.”

Gardenhire holds closed-door meeting after loss

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.”

Mastroianni heading for Fort Myers on Sunday

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.”

Willingham to 15-day DL, Hicks activated from DL

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.

Twins select Kohl Stewart as No. 4 overall selection

MINNEAPOLIS — For the second straight year, the Twins went with a high school player with their first pick in the First-Year Player Draft.

After taking outfielder Byron Buxton as the No. 2 pick in last year’s Draft, the Twins selected right-hander pitcher Kohl Stewart from St. Pius X High School in Houston as the No. 4 overall pick on Thursday night.

Stewart, who turns 19 on Oct. 7, was regarded as the best prep pitcher in the Draft and is a two-sport athlete, as he is currently committed to Texas A&M to play quarterback and play baseball. He was selected after the Astros picked Stanford right-hander Mark Appel at No. 1, the Cubs took University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant at No. 2 and the Rockies drafted Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray at No. 3.

“I think the ceiling is unlimited,” Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. “I think he’s got the makeup and the physical attributes to be a frontline starter. I’m not going to sit here and say the guy is going to be a No. 1 starter — I don’t think anyone can predict that — but I do think that, not to put any undue pressure on the kid, but he has the ability, the athleticism to be just as good as the guys up ahead of him.”

Johnson also added that the Twins aren’t worried about signing him even though the Tomball, Texas, native is committed to Texas A&M. The No. 4 overall pick has a slot value of $4.544 million.

“He’s signing,” Johnson said. “He wants to be a Major League Baseball player.”

Stewart was surrounded by family members when he found out he was being picked by the Twins but said some weather issues kept him from watching it live on MLB Network.

“It was unbelievable,” Stewart said. “One of the craziest feelings I’ve ever felt. It’s a really exciting time for my family. I had a bunch of people in my house watching it. It was funny because the weather got pretty bad here in Houston so all of our satellite dishes went out, so we couldn’t even watch it on our tvs. We all had to put it up on our phones. So a few people had it on their phones and whenever my name was called the house kinda went crazy.”

On the diamond, the 6-foot-3 right-hander has a 95-mph fastball with a plus-slider and a changeup and curveball to go with it.

As a junior in 2012, Kohl went 8-0 and recorded 72 strikeouts over 54 innings pitched as he helped lead St. Pius to the TAPPS 5A Title. And as a senior, he went 5-1 with a 0.18 ERA in 40 innings pitched with 59 strikeouts and 16 walks to be named to the Texas All-Region First-Team in 2013.

He also played in both the Area Code Games and the Perfect Game All-American Classic over the summer, serving as the starting pitcher for the West in the Perfect Game. He was also named a First-Team Rawlings All-American.

“When we scouted him last summer he was probably 185 pounds, he put on about 20 pounds of muscle,” Johnson said. “He has arm strength. He has four distinct pitches: a fastball, slider, curve and change. And for a guy that is a dual sport athlete, he didn’t spend a ton of time on the mound last summer, but he has a very good working arm. His delivery is pretty good as well.”

Stewart sounded optimistic about signing with the Twins but wanted to talk with Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin first before making his decision final. The Aggies already have a big-time quarterback in Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman last year.

“Obviously the Twins, they pick me, they expect me to sign,” Stewart said. “I’m not going to say 100 percent for sure, but I’m looking forward to joining the Twins organization, but I’m definitely going to be in contact with Coach Sumlin here in the next couple hours or days or whatever it ends up being.”

Stewart is a Type 1 diabetic but Twins officials said leading up to the Draft that they weren’t worried about his medical condition, which is considered under control.

Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET

MLB.com’s coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

The Twins have one more pick on the first night of the Draft with the No. 43 overall pick in the second round.

Worley optioned to Triple-A Rochester after loss

ATLANTA — After giving up a career-worst eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Braves on Wednesday, Vance Worley was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game. The Twins will make a corresponding roster move on Friday, presumably to bring up Samuel Deduno to start against the Tigers.

Worley, who was the club’s Opening Day starter and was acquired in the trade that sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia this offseason, has struggled his year with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts. The right-hander struck out just 25, walked 15 and served up nine homers over 48 3/3 innings.

“I just need to work on being myself and getting back to what I was doing,” said Worley, who had a career 3.50 ERA in three seasons with the Phillies. “They haven’t seen what I’ve been capable of doing. Ever since I’ve been here, it’s been a battle so I need to figure it out.”

Worley left the ball up against the Braves and ended up giving up 10 hits and three homers, including a grand slam to Evan Gattis.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Worley needs to work on locating his pitches better while pitching down in Rochester.

“We’re counting on him,” Gardenhire said. “He has to pitch better than that. He needs to get the ball down and start making quality pitches. Even time he makes a bad pitch they make him pay for it. He can turn it around but he needs to make that happen.”

Deduno, not Gibson, will start Friday in Detroit

ATLANTA — Right-hander Samuel Deduno, not prospect Kyle Gibson, will start against the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.

The Twins still need to make the roster move official by placing Deduno on both the 25-man and 40-man roster. They’ll make corresponding moves before Friday’s game with Darin Mastroianni or Tim Wood the likely candidates to be placed on the 60-day disabled list to clear room on the 40-man roster.

Deduno, who was slated to start for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, was chosen over Gibson, right-hander P.J. Walters and left-hander Andrew Albers. Deduno threw a bullpen on Tuesday instead of starting for the Red Wings and will join the team Thursday night in Detroit.

“We had four very good options,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “Gibson had two of three good outings but we want to see more consistency. Let him back it up a few times. So we went with Deduno. But Walters pitching well and so was Albers. But we discussed it and thought the best matchup for Detroit was Deduno.”

Deduno, 29, made 15 starts for the Twins last year, posting a 4.44 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 53 walks in 79 innings. He also faced the Tigers twice, giving up three runs over seven innings at Target Field on Aug. 13 and surrendering seven runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings at Comerica Park on Sept. 22.

Deduno was likely to make the club’s rotation to start the season after starring for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic but injured his groin in the title game and began the season injured. But he returned to action on May 5 and posted a 2.70 ERA in three starts with Rochester with 17 strikeouts and 10 walks over 16 2/3 innings to get the nod against Detroit.

“He’s been throwing good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We saw him for the World games and he got hurt but he’s back out there striking people out. You’re going to get a guy who puts some fear in people’s hearts. He can wing it and snap off some stuff off. I don’t think he’s afraid of going against those big boys in Detroit.”

Gibson, ranked as the No. 49 overall prospect by MLB.com, was also a top candidate, as he’s thrown shutouts in two of his last three outings with Rochester. But the 25-year-old has yet to throw back-to-back quality starts in his nine outings this year despite an impressive 3.25 ERA and 46 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 52 2/3 innings.

“He’s had one good start, one bad start, one good start, one bad start so we’re looking for him hopefully put together some starts before we bring him up,” Gardenhire said. “Because with that guy you want to call him up so that he stays here. And right now he’s just not there.”

Antony also dismissed the notion that Gibson wasn’t called up for service time or arbitration reasons, as he pointed to rookies Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia as examples of players called up early in the season by the Twins without any regard to service time.

“If he’s good enough, it doesn’t matter,” Antony said.

Mauer held out of lineup with back stiffness

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer was held out of the lineup against the Red Sox on Friday because of back stiffness, and is day to day.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the injury isn’t serious, as Mauer woke up with a sore back and the decision was made to keep him out for precautionary reasons. Ryan Doumit started at catcher in his place and hit fifth.

“It’s pretty simple here — he came in with a stiff back and there’s no sense of him playing in this weather,” Gardenhire said. “[The trainers] said to give him a day here and we’ll go from there. I listen to what they say.”

Mauer has been on fire recently, as he’s currently in the midst of a 14-game hit streak. He’s hitting .446 (25-for-56) with 11 doubles and 11 walks over that span to raise his batting average to .349 with a .431 on-base percentage.

But he didn’t take batting practice before Friday’s game and his return for Saturday is still questionable.

“We’re hoping this is short-term,” Gardenhire said. “We’re hoping he can play tomorrow.”

With Mauer out, Chris Parmelee also made his first-ever start as the club’s No. 2 hitter. Gardenhire said he went with Parmelee because he sees so many pitches. He ranks third on the team with 4.19 pitches seen per plate appearance behind Mauer (4.28) and Josh Willingham (4.19).

Twins-Angels game postponed due to weather

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins’ scheduled game with the Angels on Wednesday at Target Field was postponed due to inclement weather, and the game will be made up on a yet to be determined date.

It marks the second postponed game of the season for the Twins, who also saw Sunday’s game against the Mets postponed due to weather. It’s also the seventh postponed game in the four-year history of Target Field.

Right-hander Vance Worley was scheduled to start against the Angels but will be pushed back to pitch against the White Sox in Chicago on Friday after Thursday’s off-day. He’ll be followed by left-hander Scott Diamond on Saturday and right-hander Kevin Correia on Sunday. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey will now start Monday against the Marlins and will be followed by left-hander Pedro Hernandez on Tuesday.

“We’re just backing everybody up,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “With the weather, we tried to find a way to play this but it just wasn’t conducive. It’s supposed to rain all night long.”

Both teams have an off-day on Thursday but with snow in the forecast in the Twin Cities, the Angels were scheduled to head back to Anaheim after the game. The two clubs share a mutual off-day on Sept. 9.

“It’s not going to be a good situation for either team because they’re going to have to fly back in here,” Gardenhire said. “But it’s just the way it is. You can’t control that stuff. You just have to do what’s right for tonight.”

Fans holding tickets to Wednesday’s postponed game have two options. They can keep their tickets for admission into the rescheduled game, or utilize the value of their ticket — the amount paid — as a voucher towards any future Twins regular season game in 2013. Tickets for the postponed game are not subject to refunds.

Fans who wish to exchange their tickets for another game must bring the tickets to the Target Field box office no later than 48 hours prior to the start of the rescheduled game. Tickets returned any later than 48 hours prior to the start of the rescheduled game will be considered invalid. Tickets may be exchanged only at the Target Field Ticket Office located on Target Plaza off 7th Street.

Fans are encouraged to visit http://www.twinsbaseball.com, call 612-33-TWINS (612-338-9467) or 800-33-TWINS (800-338-9467), or visit the Target Field Box Office during normal business hours for detailed information on the Twins’ rainout policy.

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