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Rays-Twins preview

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vs Twins

Tonight-Thursday

What's new: With general manager Terry Ryan back in charge, the Twins' future is again brightening. But the present for manager Ron Gardenhire isn't too good as the Twins battle to avoid the American League Central cellar. C Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau remain the foundation of the lineup, but the pieces around them are a combination of bit players and future hopes. OF Josh Willingham being on the disabled list hurts. The bullpen features All-Star LHP Glen Perkins plus rookie LHP Caleb Thielbar, who has started his career with 17 scoreless appearances. The rotation is a problem, however, with a majors' worst ERA, 5.32.

Key stat: Mauer's career batting average of .322 leads all active players, just ahead of Albert Pujols.

Connections: Twins OF Clete Thomas lives in Tampa. Media services coordinator Andrew Heydt used to be with the Rays.

Series history: First meeting this season. Twins lead 60-56 overall; Rays lead 29-26 at the Trop.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Rays-Twins preview 07/07/13 [Last modified: Sunday, July 7, 2013 9:52pm]
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