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Notes: Fresh start for Romero?
10/04/2004 2:45 PM ET
NEW YORK -- Few Twins players are entering the postseason with less momentum than setup man J.C. Romero.

Since the left-hander's scoreless innings streak ended at 36 on Sept. 12, he is 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA and nine walks over his last 10 games. He's allowed home runs in three of his last four appearances and has especially struggled vs. lefty hitters.

Romero gave up big home runs to the Yankees' Hideki Matsui and John Olerud in two of the three losses at New York last week. But, there's no better place to wipe the slate clean than the playoffs.

"Last week when I was here, there was a little sour taste when things didn't go my way," said Romero, who was 7-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 74 regular season games. "That's over with. I'm looking forward to [Tuesday]."

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Romero's last outing Sunday was encouraging. He worked 1 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings against Cleveland.

"He threw the ball well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins finished their Monday morning workout at Yankee Stadium. "He got through the inning and got the next guy leading off the next inning. It was nice to see him go out there and get some outs."

Setup man Juan Rincon and closer Joe Nathan will likely shoulder most of the late-inning situations, but Gardenhire said he wouldn't hesitate in using Romero -- especially against a lefty.

"He's definitely had his troubles but that's all out now," Gardenhire said. "Start over. Whatever it takes to win, that's what we have to try. If he has to come in and face Matsui to get him out, I'll have to do it."

"This is a new season right now," said Romero. "I feel very comfortable. I'll be trying to get hitters out like I've been doing throughout the season -- and get my lefties out. A couple rough outings here and there doesn't dictate your career. Right now, I'm mentally ready for this series"

Roster finalized: The Twins' ALDS roster features 15 position players and 10 pitchers. Earning roles on the bench, as expected, was utility infielder Augie Ojeda and rookie outfielder Jason Kubel. Announced Sunday, right-handers Grant Balfour and Jesse Crain secured the final bullpen spots.

Traveling with the team, but not on the active roster, are outfielder Michael Restovich, catcher Joe Mauer and left-handed pitcher Aaron Fultz. Any of them could be activated should the Twins advance to the ALCS.

Here's the roster breakdown:

Catchers: Henry Blanco, Pat Borders, Matthew LeCroy
Infielders: Justin Morneau, Luis Rivas, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie, Michael Cuddyer, Augie Ojeda
Outfielders: Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Lew Ford, Jason Kubel
Pinch-hitter: Jose Offerman
Pitchers: Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse, Terry Mulholland, Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, J.C. Romero, Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain

Long man: Because he already pitched on three days' rest Sunday, it's unlikely Lohse can pitch again for Minnesota until Friday. That leaves the left-handed Mulholland as the lone long relief pitcher available. If the Twins are leading the series, it's possible Lohse will start Friday's Game 4, if necessary.

Mauer update: The 21-year-old rookie has been running the bases and is continuing to show improvement in his injured left knee. Before the option is entertained whether to activate Mauer for upcoming playoff rounds, Gardenhire wants him to face live pitching at the organization's instructional league at Fort Myers, Fla. No decision has been made if and when that could happen.

Quotable: "This is the playoffs. It's about doing the little things right. It's not about 'I.' It's about 'we.'" -- Hunter

Feeling nutty: Several Twins bench players are sporting custom T-shirts that say "Squirrels" on the front, and "Just trying to grab a nut" on the back. Behind the wording is third base coach Al Newman.

"It's about just trying to take advantage of the chances when you're in there," Cuddyer said.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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