Major League Baseball
Mauer deal still in works
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins started their annual winter gala with everything a baseball fan with cabin fever could want on a cold night: autographs from the players, batting cages and meat smoking on the grill. Everything except that contract extension for Joe Mauer. TwinsFest began Friday without an announcement of the Mauer megadeal that Minnesotans have been hoping for, that sure-to-be-expensive guarantee of keeping the American League MVP in his hometown for the foreseeable future. Mauer and the Twins have been steadfastly quiet about any negotiations, but Manager Ron Gardenhire expressed optimism that a deal will get done this spring."I'm just letting it happen. I don't sit and fret about it," Gardenhire said earlier in the day at Target Field, where the Twins are moving this year. "I think the right thing is going to happen." Mauer is making $12.5 million this season, the last year of his current contract. He'll be eligible for free agency in the fall if no new deal is in place, a scenario that wouldn't bode well for the Twins given the interest the soon-to-be-27-year-old would attract on the open market. But Gardenhire, though removed from the process, wasn't worried. "I'll be happy when he does sign. He can buy me a beer. Probably two. Maybe three," he said, chuckling. And Mauer's thoughts on the contract? "I feel like a broken record," he said. "People, they want to know what's going on and try to find out things when they can, but I keep saying - I'm sounding like a broken record right now - it'll all happen when it needs to happen, and you've just got to try to let it all happen. That's what we're doing." In other Twins news, backup catcher Jose Morales will be out until mid-March following surgery on his injured right wrist. Starting second baseman Nick Punto won't need as much time for his recovery. General Manager Bill Smith said Morales will be ready for the regular season. Punto was scheduled for surgery Friday on his right wrist. Smith called Punto's operation more of a "clean-up" and he should be ready in time to report to spring training Feb. 26. Blue Jays' McGowan throws off a mound DUNEDIN - Pitcher Dustin McGowan threw off a mound at Toronto's spring training complex as he attempts to come back from shoulder and knee surgery. The 27-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in a game since July 8, 2008, when he left a start against Baltimore with shoulder pain. He had operations to repair a frayed labrum July 31, 2008, and cartilage in his right knee July 9. "Dustin threw off a mound today and looked very good," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said in an e-mail to the Canadian Press. "He experienced no pain, which is a very encouraging sign. This is a positive step in his recovery." He agreed last month to a one-year contract that guarantees him $500,000. ANGELS: Left-hander Joe Saunders and Los Angeles have agreed to a $3.7 million, one-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing next month. ATHLETICS: Right-hander Michael Wuertz has agreed to a $5.25 million, two-year contract with Oakland that avoided salary arbitration. CUBS: Outfielder Xavier Nady, who had his second elbow ligament replacement surgery in July and appeared in only seven games with the New York Yankees last season, finalized a $3.3 million, one-year contract. MARINERS: Seattle added a right-handed bat, agreeing to a one-year contract with outfielder Eric Byrnes. Byrnes, who will turn 34 on Feb. 16, was let go two weeks ago by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona owed him $11 million from the final season of a $30 million contract, and any team could sign him for the $400,000 minimum, with the Diamondbacks responsible for the remainder. METS: Fernando Tatis agreed to an $850,000, one-year contract to stay with the New York Mets, who also gave a minor-league contract to right-hander Josh Fogg. NATIONALS: Right-hander Miguel Batista and Washington agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. RANGERS: Right-hander Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner season, agreed to a one-year contract worth $2,425,000 and avoided an arbitration hearing. SUSPENSIONS: Florida first baseman Adam Kam and free-agent third baseman Duanel Jones, whose contract was voided by San Francisco, have been suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games each under its minor-league drug program.