Twins pick up Blanco's option

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins declined their 2005
option on shortstop Cristian Guzman's contract on Friday, which
makes the sixth-year player eligible for free agency.

Guzman, who would've made $5.25 million next year, hit .274 with
eight home runs and 46 RBI in 2004. He
has been plagued by injuries since being named to the All-Star team
in 2001.

But this was Guzman's most consistent season. He could be
brought back, if the price is right and Guzman -- who has indicated
he'd like to stay -- wants to remain in Minnesota.

"That's a possibility," general manager Terry Ryan said.

Rookie Jason Bartlett is currently the team's only other option
at shortstop.

Also Friday, the Twins exercised their $750,000 option for 2005
on catcher Henry Blanco, who hit .206 with 10 homers and 37 RBI
while filling in for injured rookie Joe Mauer.

Infielder Jose Offerman and catcher Pat Borders elected for free
agency when they declined their assignments to be outrighted to
Triple-A Rochester. Left-handed reliever Aaron Fultz was claimed
off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Also, second baseman Luis Rivas had successful arthroscopic
surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

Mauer had his left knee examined by Dr. Joel Boyd on Friday, and
the team felt good about the results.

"Everything structurally is fine," Ryan said. "We went to
another level on this, and we got another level of comfort. That's
what I wanted to hear."

Mauer, who had surgery in April and was limited to just 35
games, had complained of persistent soreness after beginning
instructional league play in Florida last weekend.