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For Twins, talks but no deals yet

DALLAS -- The Twins do not appear to be any closer to filling holes at third base and designated hitter after the first day of the annual winter meetings Monday.

But general manager Terry Ryan might have laid some groundwork after engaging in trade talks with several teams, including inquiring about the Boston Red Sox's Mike Lowell and Texas Rangers' Hank Blalock.

However, neither Boston nor Texas seems willing to deal its all-star third baseman.

The Twins also met with the Cincinnati Reds to ask about a trade involving right fielder Austin Kearns.

Ryan would not disclose the names of players had discussed.

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"Some were the type of exchanges that were just kicking tires, but many were more pointed," said Ryan, who admitted to not being active at the meetings in recent years, in part, because the Twins didn't have such pressing needs. "This wasn't something where there won't be another exchange. We've got a match with many teams."

The Twins' potential backup plan at third base might have been all but wiped off the board.

Free-agent third baseman Bill Mueller is drawing strong interest from the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, who seem to be leading the charge for the former batting champion because they are believed to be offering him a two-year deal.

The Twins, who are looking to trade pitchers Kyle Lohse and J.C. Romero, were interested in Lowell earlier in the offseason before the Florida Marlins traded him to Boston in mid-November.

Jason Williams

Pioneer Press

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