MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins reliever Jon Rauch threw a bullpen session on Monday morning, with pitching coach Rick Anderson watching, and reported afterward that everything felt good with his sore left knee.Manager Ron Gardenhire also said that Rauch was doing "fine" after the bullpen session, but that the club would wait to announce which pitchers will be on the club's postseason roster. Gardenhire said the team had one more pitching move to make and indicated that the decision had already been made. "I was looking for one of the pitchers to let them know in the clubhouse, and I couldn't find him," Gardenhire said. "So we'll make that move and let them know. Then we'll let you know [Wednesday]." Gardenhire confirmed that his team is keeping 11 pitchers and 14 position players, and will go with a four-man rotation of Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn for the American League Division Series, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. CT Wednesday on TBS. Kevin Slowey appeared to have the edge in the race for the long-relief spot in the bullpen, having pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday against the Blue Jays. Scott Baker was also an option, but the concern has been how his right elbow might fare in a relief role, since he's received two cortisone shots this season to ease tendinitis. The other members of the bullpen include left-handers Jose Mijares and Brian Fuentes and right-handers Matt Capps, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Rauch. The team had also been waiting to make a final decision on the pitching staff to see how Rauch, who had his left knee drained of fluid and received a cortisone shot, fared when throwing his bullpen on Tuesday. The 14 position players that the Twins will keep appear set. In addition to the club's starters, Gardenhire said that he wants speed and flexibility on his roster. So, it's likely that infielders Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert will all be on the bench, along with outfielder Jason Repko and catcher Drew Butera.
NY paper headline is fodder for Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Taped to a white board inside the Twins' clubhouse on Monday morning was a color photocopy of the back page cover of the New York Daily News with a headline that read "E-Z Pass."Above the headline it read, "Bad News: Yanks must go on the road for playoffs. Good News: They play the Twins." It was, of course, a play on the fact that the Twins have struggled against the Yankees, particularly in postseason play where they've lost all three previous first round series vs. New York. Twins center fielder Denard Span was asked about the newspaper headline and if being viewed in that manner is something that annoys the Twins. "It doesn't bother me," Span said. "You know how the New York newspapers are. There are a lot of tabloids there. If that's what they think, we're OK with that." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that he doesn't worry about the notion that the Twins-Yankees series sometimes gets compared to David and Goliath. "You are dealing with a good Yankees baseball team," Gardenhire said. "We're a good baseball team. Yes, we've had our issues with them. We haven't beaten them. All those things are out there, it's easy to see if you look at the records. It's about making a play or a pitch against them. They get it done, they find a way and that's what we have to do. We have to find a way."
Hardy has seen CC's fire up close
MINNEAPOLIS -- The last time J.J. Hardy saw CC Sabathia on the mound in person, they were in the postseason. But they were teammates, part of a 2008 Brewers squad that won the National League Wild Card before losing to the Phillies in the NL Division Series.Sabathia was the prized midseason trade acquisition for the Brewers in an all-out playoff bid. Hardy was Milwaukee's young shortstop in his first October experience. "Well, for us, he was the guy," Hardy recalled on Tuesday morning. "He pitched for about two months on three days' rest and basically carried the whole team to the playoffs. Great guy. I mean, I just can't say enough good things about him. He was a great teammate. It was fun to play behind him." Playing as an infielder behind Sabathia, understandably, is a little more fun than getting into the batter's box against him. Hardy doesn't know the latter, having never gone to bat against the big left-hander. A pair of moves out of Milwaukee to American League contenders, one year apart, bring them together again. Sabathia moved on after that season to the Yankees as a free agent. Milwaukee traded Hardy to Minnesota last winter for Carlos Gomez. "Great guy, great teammate, great pitcher," Hardy said. "It's going to be a battle. That first game is going to be fun."
Young appears set for cleanup slot
MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Yankees sending left-handers to the mound in the first two games of the American League Division Series -- CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte -- it appears that Delmon Young will get the nod to bat cleanup for the Twins in both contests.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had said Sunday that his lineup for the season finale would be the one that he'd use in Game 1 of the ALDS against Sabathia. It featured Young batting in the No. 4 spot. Young led the Twins with 112 RBIs this season, which is the most by a Twins outfielder since Kirby Puckett had 112 in 1994. Young spent most of the season batting seventh and was slotted in the four-hole just 16 times. But Young's teammates are confident that he is a good fit for that spot now. "I think he's been a lot more patient at the plate," said Joe Mauer, who will bat No. 3. "I think that just comes along with playing the game and just seeing pitchers, understanding what they are trying to do to him. He's working himself into great counts and definitely capitalizing it." Gardenhire also said Sunday that Jason Kubel could slide up to the cleanup spot against right-handed pitchers. Kubel was slotted in the seventh spot on Sunday.
Killebrew to deliver first pitch in Game 1
MINNEAPOLIS -- On Tuesday, the Twins announced the pregame plans for Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series with the Yankees at Target Field.Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 on Wednesday night. Jim Thome will present the ball to Killebrew and the pitch will be caught by Justin Morneau. In addition, the national anthem will be sung by Rick Oliva and Maria Versalles, the children of former Twins greats Tony Oliva and Zoilo Versalles, and the Twins Territory flag will be raised by former Twins manager Frank Quillici. On Thursday, former heavyweight contender Scott LeDoux will throw out the ceremonial pitch before Game 2 and local recording artist Sara Pohlad will sing the national anthem.
The umpires of the Twins-Yankees series were announced on Tuesday. The crew chief will be Jerry Crawford, a 34-year Major League umpire. Crawford's crew will include Hunter Wendelstedt, Greg Gibson, Brian O'Nora, Gary Darling and Chris Guccione. ... Closer Joe Nathan is not currently with the Twins, as he is at home in Knoxville, Tenn., while he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery. But Nathan said there is a possibility that he'll return to Minnesota to watch the Twins should they advance to the American League Championship Series. Everything has been going well in his recovery from the surgery.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.