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Hunter says he's OK following collision with wall

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter compared it to being tackled by Ray Lewis.

No, it wasn't the Baltimore Ravens' fearsome linebacker who hit him, it was the Metrodome's center-field wall.

Hunter tried to make a running catch of Hideki Matsui's homer in the seventh, but the ball popped out when he hit the wall.

The ball rolled over and into the seats as Hunter lay on the warning track in pain and Matsui rounded the bases. But Hunter stayed in the game, and manager Ron Gardenhire said he'd be in the lineup Saturday.

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Hunter said he just had the wind knocked out of him. It's not the first time Hunter, a Gold Glove outfielder, has raced into the outfield wall trying to rob a home run. Earlier this season, in a game against the Yankees, Hunter strained his neck after chasing a drive by Jorge Posada and collided violently with the padding.

He lay on his back on the warning track for several minutes before being helped to his feet and carted off the field.

But Hunter said he still won't think twice about running full speed to make a catch.

"We're not going to give up," he said.

DON'T FORGET HIDEKI: Gary Sheffield is the MVP candidate. Alex Rodriguez is the multiskilled superstar. Derek Jeter is the team captain.

But don't forget Hideki Matsui, one of New York's most reliable hitters all season.

"He's such a true professional," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Through Games 1 and 2 of the AL division series against Minnesota, Matsui was New York's second-best hitter (.375) behind Rodriguez (.600). In the regular season, Matsui batted a team-high .298 and drove in 108 runs, second behind Sheffield's 121.

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Matsui became the third player in the last 50 years to drive in at least 100 runs in each of his first two seasons in the major leagues, joining Wally Joyner and Albert Pujols. Matsui's 325 consecutive games played is the longest such streak to begin a big league career since Ernie Banks broke into the majors with 424 games in a row for the Chicago Cubs.

"You do take him for granted," Torre said. "You write his name in the lineup and he knows what to do. I trust him a great deal."

BASERUNNING BLUES: Hunter and Corey Koskie each were thrown out in the sixth inning when they tried to squeeze an extra base out of some hits.

Hunter was caught going for third -- Koskie unsuccessfully tried for second. But both players and manager Ron Gardenhire defended their decisions.

"They were playing the game right," Gardenhire said. "That's all I care about."

Koskie said he thought his hit looked like it would go farther. Instead, Yankees' center fielder Bernie Williams' threw him out.

"Hindsight's the worst sight in this game," Koskie said. "You can second guess everything."

AROUND THE HORN: Rookie catcher Joe Mauer left for Florida this week to play on the Twins' instructional league team. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI on Friday, and there's a chance he could be added to the roster if Minnesota advances to the next round. A knee injury has kept Mauer out since July 19. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said 2B Luis Rivas (sore elbow) was feeling better Friday, but Michael Cuddyer probably will start the rest of the series. The Twins considered starting Augie Ojeda behind groundball pitcher Carlos Silva in Game 3, but Cuddyer has been hitting too well.

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