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Home stand could define second half of Twins season

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The Minnesota Twins open the second half of the 2014 season at home Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The game kicks off a critical 10-game home stand.

The Twins are 44-50 on the season, they are 10 1/2 games behind first place Detroit in the American League Central Division and are 6 1/2 games behind Seattle for the A.L.'s second Wild Card spot.

After Tampa Bay, the Twins welcome in Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox – who are a combined 15-games below .500.

So this first home stand could determine if the Twins make a push for the playoffs or if they will be sellers with Major League Baseball's trade deadline quickly approaching.

FOX Sports North took a look at five story lines for the Twins in the second half of the season.

  • Will the Twins be playing meaningful games in September?
  • Brian Dozier's quest to join the 30-30 club
  • Can Joe Mauer rebound to finish 2014 on a high note?
  • Will Trevor May and/or Alex Meyer debut this season?
  • If the Twins wind up selling before the deadline, who will be on the move?

Things haven't been as lopsided as you would think for a team that currently sits in last place in the A.L. Central.

The Pioneer Press reports the Twins run differential is minus -16. That's ninth-best in the league, but a lot better than the Rays (minus -26), New York Yankees (minus -37) and Chicago White Sox (minus -23).

So could the Twins make a run in the second half?

"I don't think anybody in this room feels like we're out of anything, Twins' pitcher Phil Hughes told the Pioneer Press. "We just have to continue grinding and getting after it, and who knows? You go on a nice little, 10-, 12-game run, and you look up and you're just a few games out."

If the Twins end up out of contention after the home stand pitcher Kevin Correia, outfielder Josh Willingham, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and catcher Kurt Suzuki could wind up on the move. The blog Twinkie Town reports that power bats like Willingham and catchers like Suzuki are always in demand among contending teams.

The moves also could give the Twins a chance to look at some of their younger talent.

Moving Morales could allow them to look at Kennys Vargas, trading Correia could create an opportunity for the team to look at either May or Meyer and shipping off Willingham could give players like Chris Parmelee, Chris Colabello, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks a chance to audition for outfield spots.

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