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Twins pass the buck for veteran pitcher

By Gordon Wittenmyer

Knight Ridder Newspapers

CLEVELAND -- Contrary to original reports that the Twins' acquisition of veteran left-handed pitcher Terry Mulholland was a free-agent signing, it technically was a trade.

For $1.

That's because Mulholland, the last player cut from Seattle's big-league camp this spring, was working under a minor league contract at the time of the transaction. By keeping him under contract, and assigning him to one of their Class A rosters, the Mariners were able to extend him the courtesy of continuing to work out with the team.

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Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi gave him permission to seek a big-league deal elsewhere.

So when he agreed to terms with Minnesota -- for the same $600,000 plus $75,000 in performance incentives as his Seattle deal -- the Twins officially completed the transaction as a trade from Seattle for "cash considerations."

"A dollar well spent," Mulholland cracked.

Ready for anything: Mulholland, 41, met with manager Ron Gardenhire Wednesday afternoon, upon his arrival at Jacobs Field, and it became quickly understood by both parties Mulholland could be used in almost any situation for the Twins.

"Whether it's the first inning, or the ninth, no matter what the situation is," the pitcher said, "It's a selfless role. I feel I can do whatever it is he needs."

Mulholland, who once won 16 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, has been used primarily as a reliever the past 6 1⁄2; seasons.

"He can eat up innings for you," Gardenhire said. "He can spot start. He can pitch every day. That's pretty much what we brought him in here for. He has a rubber arm... . More than anything else, the durability's what we've liked about him."

Memo from above: Gardenhire and Cleveland manager Eric Wedge received memos from baseball officials to meet with the umpiring crew before Wednesday's game. But it had less to do with Monday's flareup, which included bench warnings for pitching inside, than it did with standard operating procedure.

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Managers typically meet with umpires before a series opener, but because Monday's game included so much hoopla associated with Cleveland's season opener, they didn't have a chance to do it then.

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