MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Spring training is still months away, but Matt Garza and the rest of the Minnesota Twins are wondering who will show up.
It's not only Johan Santana who could wind up playing elsewhere. This winter, several Twins might find themselves included in a trade. Garza himself was the highlight of Wednesday's rumor mill, regarding a potential multiplayer deal involving the Tampa Bay Rays and outfielder Delmon Young.
``It's not anxious times,'' he said from his home in Fresno, Calif. ``It's just kind of waiting to see who's going to be here. I don't worry about it. That's why I've got an agent.''
As for the possibility of being traded?
``Until I get that call, I'm planning to be in Fort Myers on Feb. 18,'' Garza said, referring to the date of Minnesota's first official workout for pitchers and catchers.
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Santana has been the obvious focal point of the Twins and their offseason plans. They're trying to improve on their 79-83 finish, as well as field a contending team for the 2010 opening of their new ballpark.
``What the front office does, they're doing it for the benefit of the team,'' Garza said. ``It's not like they're going to let the team be bad for two years. This year we're going to be great. That's what we hope. Johan, I hope they can come to some kind of an agreement to extend him, but if he gets traded we're going to have to step up and move on and compete for 2009 and 2010.''
Garza, interestingly, left out 2008 in that statement. With All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter already lost to the Angels in free agency, the departure of Santana would deplete this team's star power much further. Even with young left-hander Francisco Liriano coming back from elbow surgery and Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau anchoring the lineup, it would be tough for the Twins to keep up in the loaded AL Central.
Infielder Nick Punto acknowledged the anxiety of such a time for a player, not knowing who might be sent packing next. But it's part of that business-of-baseball stuff that everyone who gets paid to play this game is accustomed to by now.
Including the chance that an ace such as Santana could be dealt.
``I would hate to see him go. I love him as a teammate and as a player, but that's not my job to sit back and worry and be an armchair quarterback and say what should happen with this team,'' Punto said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Relief pitcher Pat Neshek said he keeps up with all the signings, trades and speculation during the winter.
``It's always a difficult time with teammates leaving, but you know that's how it's been ever since Day 1 in pro ball,'' Neshek replied in an e-mail. ``Guys get released, signed, offered contracts. The offseason is a crazy time and hard to understand. It's also nice, because you get fresh faces in the clubhouse and that keeps guys on their feet and make them want to work harder so they have a spot on the team.''
The Twins made a handful of minor moves Wednesday, signing right-hander Brian Bass - who spent last season at Triple-A Rochester - and placing him on the 40-man roster.
They also signed a pair of pitchers to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training, right-hander R.A. Dickey and left-hander Mariano Gomez.
Dickey spent parts of five seasons with Texas, compiling a 5.72 ERA in 266 innings, including 33 starts. Last year, he was in Triple-A with Milwaukee's affiliate in Nashville. Gomez spent last season in Cleveland's organization.
Also, left-handers Ricky Barrett and Errol Simonitch were removed from the 40-man roster. They cleared waivers and were assigned to Triple-A.
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