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Radke Kept Contract, Ignored Contraction

October 12, 2002|Jason Reid; Mike DiGiovanna | From Staff Reports

Brad Radke considered leaving before the ax fell.

With the Twins on Bud Selig's list for elimination last winter, Radke could have exercised an escape clause in his four-year, $36-million contract, forfeiting the last three years of the deal and becoming a free agent.

The move was tempting because of the turmoil, but Radke stayed and hoped for the best. The right-hander, scheduled to start Game 4 of the American League championship series today at Edison Field, said things couldn't have worked out better.

"There was a point that I thought about it, but as it turned out, I'm glad I stayed," Radke said. "Just the way these guys, the younger guys on the team now, have grown up and become quality major league players.

"The way everything has come together has been great for the whole organization. This is really what you hope for."

Radke, on the disabled list twice this season because of a groin injury, was 9-5 with a 4.72 earned-run average in 21 starts, the fewest in his eight-year career. After pitching at least 213 innings the previous six seasons, Radke said he's benefiting from the reduced workload.

"I've thrown a lot of innings in the past, and in September I usually get pretty tired," he said. "This year I feel pretty good."

Radke was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in Minnesota's AL division series victory over the Oakland Athletics. He has dominated the Angels, going 11-4 with a 1.72 ERA overall, and 6-1 with a 1.38 ERA at Edison Field. Angel right fielder Tim Salmon is batting .217 (10 for 46) with a homer and 13 strikeouts against Radke.

For those reasons and others, Manager Ron Gardenhire is pleased Radke stayed with the Twins.

"What Brad wanted was for this organization to be competitive again," Gardenhire said. "He saw that we were going about it the right way, getting some great young players, putting them together, making some nice trades, picking up some people.

"Sure, I was concerned he might think about leaving, but I really didn't think Brad wanted to go anywhere. He loves Minnesota. He just wants to win, like everyone else. Now that we're doing that, he's pretty happy."

Jason Reid


As Kirby Puckett stood behind the batting cage in Edison Field, watching the Twins hit before Friday night's game, his mind wandered back to May 8, 1984, when he made his major league debut in what was then known as Anaheim Stadium.

Puckett had four hits, scored three runs and stole two bases against the Angels that night, the start of a Hall of Fame career in which he led the Twins to World Series championships in 1987 and 1991. The day might not have turned out so well, though, had Puckett not run into a trusting cabdriver at Los Angeles International Airport.

After an all-day flight from Maine, Puckett arrived at the airport and found no Twins' representative there to greet him or drive him to Anaheim.

"It was an $85 fare to Anaheim, and I didn't have the money to pay for it," said Puckett, who made more than $43 million in his career. "But the cabbie saw all my bats and equipment and knew I played baseball, so he still took me. When I got to the stadium, our traveling secretary [Mike Robertson] came out and paid for it."

It was money well spent. Puckett hit .318 with 207 home runs, 414 doubles and 1,085 runs batted in during his 12-year career with the Twins and is now the team's executive vice president.

Mike DiGiovanna

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