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Twins intensify efforts to land help for bullpen

McClatchy News Services

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Radcliff, the Twins’ player personnel director, met with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire over the weekend in St. Louis and on Tuesday in Kansas as the Twins step up their efforts to find late-inning bullpen help.

How serious are they? Gardenhire talked before the game of trying knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in the eighth inning when the Twins have a lead.

Right-hander Matt Guerrier has bounced back from a poor 2008 season to go 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA so far this year. But he entered Tuesday tied for the AL lead with 38 appearances. And the Twins don’t want to wear him out.

"We’re still in the process of looking around like everyone else," Gardenhire said. "I think one more guy would really be big. That would relieve the pressure off all those guys. That’s kind of what we all are looking for."

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So the Twins are checking with teams to see which relievers are available. With a handful of teams already out of the playoff chase, a few good relievers could be available.

Then again, the Twins have needed bullpen help since early of last season but have failed to swing a deal for significant help.

Crede’s back responds

Twins third baseman Joe Crede said his back felt much better Tuesday, and he was back in the starting lineup.

Crede was scratched just before game time Monday when his back wouldn’t get loose. He said Tuesday that it was the right decision. He knows there will be days when he can play with a little stiffness and days when he’ll need rest.

AAA coach takes leave

Class AAA Rochester coach Riccardo Ingram has left the team indefinitely to take care of a medical issue. Class A Beloit coach Rich Miller will fill in while Ingram is away. And the Twins have hired Chris Heintz to replace Miller at Beloit. Heintz, 34, spent time with the Twins in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

All-Star update

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On-site balloting for the July 14 All-Star Game ended Sunday. Fans can still vote online at www.mlb.com through 10:59 p.m. Thursday.

Kevin Youkilis has passed Mark Teixeira for the AL lead among first basemen for the midsummer classic. The Twins’ Justin Morneau was third as of Tuesday morning with 1,560,530 votes, nearly 355,000 behind Youkilis. Morneau could still get a spot on the All-Star team via the player vote.

There’s no doubt that Joe Mauer will be the starting catcher. His 2,851,819 votes lead Boston’s Jason Varitek by more than 1.4 million.

Closer Joe Nathan has a great chance to land a spot on the AL pitching staff. And a strong start by right-hander Kevin Slowey on Thursday against Detroit could get him in the conversation.

Etc.

• The international signing period begins Thursday, but there’s still no word from major league baseball if Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano’s age has been verified.

There are concerns that Sano, a power hitting infield prospect, might be older than he claims he is. The Twins are among teams that are very interested in Sano, but they have asked MLB to verify his age first. If Sano lied about his age and it’s documented, he will be ineligible to sign for a year.

• Royals outfielder Jose Guillen didn’t start for the second consecutive game because of a stiff left side.

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