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Heitkamp, Cramer face off in first debate

Twins take note of Bartolo Colon's record-setting 246th win

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, left, is congratulated after a game against the Seattle Mariners by manager Jeff Banister after becoming the winningest Latin-born pitcher in history at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

CLEVELAND — Bartolo Colon's record-setting 246th victory on Tuesday night for the Texas Rangers resonated in the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field.

After breaking Dennis Martinez's 20-year-old mark for most wins by a pitcher born in Latin America, the 45-year-old Colon soon heard from two of his closest friends in the game: Twins pitchers Ervin Santana and Fernando Rodney.

"I'm very proud of him," Rodney said Wednesday. "I think it's a great career. Now I hope Ervin breaks the record."

Santana, wearing earbuds as he watched something on his iPad at the next locker, looked up and smiled when Rodney repeated his challenge.

"I said, 'Ervin now is going to try to break the record,' " Rodney said, raising his voice for effect. "Right, Ervin?"

Santana, who ranks fourth among Dominican-born pitchers with 149 wins, just smiled and nodded.

"I talked to Bartolo last night," he said of his former Los Angeles Angels teammate (2005-07). "He's very happy with it, and I'm happy for him. He's going to continue pitching."

Wait, past this year? Hadn't Colon, who rediscovered his mojo while going 5-6 in a 15-start cameo with the Twins late last season, said he was hanging them up after his 21st season in the majors?

"I don't know," Santana said. "If he's healthy, why not? He's proving to everybody he can still get wins, he can still pitch and can still get people out. Even though he doesn't have the velocity, he knows how to pitch. That's what teams are looking for: that veteran guy who knows how to pitch."

Nothing had been decided yet on what sort of gift the Twins would send to commemorate the achievement.

"We'll have to talk, me and Rodney," Santana said. "We'll have to come up with something for him."

Mejia on the mend

Left-hander Adalberto Mejia continued to show improvement Wednesday after leaving his start the night before with a strained left wrist.

The Twins plan to push Mejia's side session back a day to Friday after he plays long toss Thursday morning. A decision on whether Mejia, who has thrown 10 straight scoreless innings (all against the Cleveland Indians) will be able to take his scheduled turn Sunday at Detroit will be made after Friday's bullpen session.

Head athletic trainer Tony Leo was "really encouraged," Twins manager Paul Molitor said, about Mejia's recovery. Late Tuesday ,Molitor said Mejia described "a stinging effect in the lower left forearm — closer to the wrist — that radiated up through the elbow."

Mejia noted the sensation was on his outer arm, which should alleviate concerns about a possible elbow ligament problem. No MRI was planned.

Buxton still sore

Triple-A Rochester center fielder Byron Buxton, back on the disabled list with a sore left wrist, was scheduled to take indoor swings for a second straight day.

His wrist had been immobilized for four days "to make sure he didn't irritate it," Molitor said.

The hope is for Buxton to return to game action sometime next week, but first he must show his wrist can handle awkward swings.

"The hard part with this injury is you take your normal swing during (batting practice) or off the tee or flips, you're not getting fooled," Molitor said. "It's the start and stop and check swings where these things get aggravated. Those are tough to simulate in a practice environment."

Rodney's 25

When Rodney notched his 25th save Tuesday night, it marked the seventh time in his career (all since the start of 2009) that he had produced a 25-save season.

Just two other pitchers in the past decade can make that claim: current Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel (eight times) and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kenley Jansen (seven). Aroldis Chapman (Yankees) notched his sixth 25-save season recently, and the retired Jonathan Papelbon also had a half-dozen such seasons since the start of 2009.

Current Twins setup man Addison Reed did it three times, while former Twins closers Glen Perkins (three) and Joe Nathan (four) had their runs as well.

"I'm very proud of the job I've been doing in my career," Rodney said. "Every number I've been putting up, every number I keep putting in the books, they make me feel happy and proud of the job I've been doing. I've been working hard in my career."

More talent

Baseball America rated the Twins seventh in its updated organizational talent rankings, up from 12th at the start of the season. Heading into 2017, the Twins ranked 22nd in the same survey, which now places only the Chicago White Sox (fourth) ahead of them among AL Central competitors. The Detroit Tigers were 14th, followed by the Cleveland Indians (25th) and Kansas City Royals (26th).

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