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Ozzie Guillen praises right-hander Jesse Crain


A security guard stands raTarget Field after game between Sox Twins was postponed Tuesday. | Jim Mone~AP

A security guard stands in the rain at Target Field after the game between the Sox and Twins was postponed Tuesday. | Jim Mone~AP

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Updated: September 21, 2011 12:33AM



MINNEAPOLIS — Ozzie Guillen’s favorite offseason free-agent signing has to be right-hander Jesse Crain. Guillen can’t say enough about the former Minnesota Twin, and given the opportunity with a Minnesota writer on Tuesday, Guillen gushed some more.

“Jesse is one of the best things that has happened to me in the game, and I’ve only had him for three months,’’ Guillen said. “He’s a very hard worker, always ready to take the ball and never complains about anything. This kid is a very special kid.’’

This was Crain’s first visit in a different uniform to Minneapolis, where he played seven seasons.

“Playing at Target Field against those guys is the last step in the process of putting [the move] behind me,’’ Crain said.

The Twins have beaten the Sox in 12 of their last 14 meetings and 26 of 33 dating to May 2009. Crain experienced similar bad matchup woes as a Twin against the Yankees.

“They have had [the Sox’] number the last two years, but I don’t think it’s something that will carry on,’’ Crain said. “With all those guys being hurt [Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, Denard Span], we should be able to win two of three.’’

Despite the injuries, the Twins have won nine of their last 11.

Even though he’s in a new uniform, Crain was in for some affection from his former teammates, Guillen said.

“There’s going to be a lot of hugging and kissing on the other side,’’ Guillen said. “I know that because that is the type of guy he is, and I only know him for [three] months. He’s a special kid.’’

No fear

Sergio Santos, 0-3 with a 9.26 ERA and two blown saves in his last 10 games, has looked “anxious” to Guillen recently but not fearful. That’s enough to hold his manager’s confidence.

“He never will be scared. Never,’’ Guillen said. “That’s the reason I’ve said in the past that this kid has a great mentality to be the closer. He can walk around with his head up and not worry about blowing the game.

“I don’t want to say [Matt ] Thornton or [Chris ] Sale don’t have the same mentality, but this kid is a tough kid. He’s cocky. He’s not arrogant. He’s confident; that’s what the word should be.’’

That said, Santos needs to regain the feel for his slider and command of his fastball.

“When your fastball is 96-97 and you’re behind and you have to come with the slider, that’s not going to make you effective,’’ Guillen said.

Briefly

Right-hander Tony Pena (right elbow strain) will join Jake Peavy in Charlotte on Thursday for his rehab stint.

◆ Alexei Ramirez leads American League shortstops with 41 runs and a .357 on-base percentage and is tied for the lead with 16 doubles. Ramirez is batting .361 in his last 14 games.

◆ Class AA right-hander Gaby Hernandez was traded to the Diamondbacks for cash considerations.

◆ Twins star Justin Morneau went back on the disabled list with a strained left wrist. Twins general manager Bill Smith said the wrist would be immobilized for about 10 days.



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