La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame: Hicks shows up late

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 21, 2014 - 6:25 PM

Once Aaron Hicks gets over his sore back, it would smart of him to put his head down and grind through the rest of the regular season.

Hicks erred on Sunday when he arrived at Target Field shortly before 11 a.m. for the 1:10 p.m start. Just a half hour earlier, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire noted that Hicks hadn't arrived at the park yet and ruled him unavailable for the game.

Right before the game, Twins GM Terry Ryan was asked if Hicks would get into more trouble than missing Sunday's game.

``Gardy will handle that,'' Ryan said. ``I don't know if he was late or not. The big mistake is that he's coming off of a stiff lower back that led to him being scratched. You would like to think that he would be in for treatment, so in that regard, yes he made a mistake. But Gardy will handle that.''

Gardy said after the game that missing Sunday would be enough.

Just a few weeks ago, Gardenhire was saying how Hicks looked as focused as he's ever seen him, and the former No. 1 pick was showing off a shorter swing and collecting hits while batting lefthanded. Now this.

He's been on the fence about playing winter ball. That shouldn't be a tough decision. Playing just a half season in Venezuela would do him good and show the organization that he is serious about getting better. And it would help them forget about today's misstep.

Twins wrap up season series with Cleveland

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 21, 2014 - 2:13 PM


Aaron Hicks didn't arrive at the ballpark until around 11 a.m., and that was enough for manager Ron Gardenhire to deem him not ready to return to the lineup.

Hicks backed up that up when asked if his back was any better.

``Um, a little bit,'' Hicks said, unconvincingly.

Eduardo Escobar, however, was in good spirits. He jammed his right shoulder on Tuesday and hasn't played since. Gardenhire admitted that he initially thought that Escobar's season was over, but he's doing much better and planned to take some swings.

Now it looks like he could return to the lineup during the Arizona series.

Anthony Swarzak makes his third spot start of the season and could start again on Friday. That depends on Tommy Milone. Can he take that start or will the Twins just use him out of the bullpen, provided he's gotten over his sore neck.


Indians (80-74)

Michael Bourn, CF
Jose Ramirez, SS
Michael Brantley, LF
Carlos Santana, 1B
David Murphy, RF
Yan Gomes,C
Jason Kipnis DH
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Mike Aviles, 2B

Corey Kluber, RHP

Twins (66-88)

Danny Santana, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Josmil Pinto. C
Chris Herrmann, LF
Jordan Schafer, CF

Anthony Swarzak, RHP

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: May, Hicks, Dozier

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 20, 2014 - 11:38 PM

Three thoughts following the Twins' 7-3 loss to Cleveland

MAY MISSES MARK: Trevor May wasn't sharp on Saturday but all seven runs scored off of him came with two outs, which means he could have made better pitches to get out of innings. He did appear to get screwed on a borderline pitch to Yan Gomes before he hit a three-run home run in the fifth. That means he he should have pitched better before that so he wouldn't become a victim of a bad call. And, after getting ahead of Lonnie Chisenhall - with Gomes on deck - May issued a walk. That's where he lost that inning.

HICKS UPDATE: About 6:15 p.m. Aaron Hicks told manager Ron Gardenhire that his back was stiff. Hicks' back started acting up late during batting practice did not improve. So Gardenhire went with Eduardo Nunez in left field. We'll know more about Hicks' condition tomorrow - or a few hours from now.

DOZIER DINGER: Gardenhire hopes that Brian Dozier can finish the season strong after scuffling in recent weeks. Dozier hit his 21st homer of the season in the eighth inning, ending a span of 131 at-bats without a home run. Dozier's future position in the batting order will be interesting. It doesn't look like he will hit for a high average. He likes the high ones and is a pull hitter. But he's walked 87 times for a .346 on base percentage. With his speed you want him around the top of the order, right?  Or do you drop him to fifth or sixth and let him hit homers there? I think he can stick in the two-hole. I just wish he could hit .265.

Twins-Cleveland game starts after rain delay; Hicks scratched

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 20, 2014 - 7:01 PM

It's pouring down big time right now. We will be delayed, but the game should be played.

They hope to start the game at 6:45 p.m., This update is at 6:20, so fat chance.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game that Jared Burton will handle closing duties the rest of the season. Closer Glen Perkins has been shut down because of nerve irritation in his forearm.

Aaron Hicks has beem scratched with a stiff back and has been replaced by Eduardo Nunez.

Cleveland (79-74)

Michael Bourn, CF
Jose Ramirez, SS
Michael Brantley, LF
Carlos Santana, 1B
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Yan Gomes, DH
David Murphy, RF
Roberto Perez, C
Mike Aviles, 2B

T.J. House, LHP

Twins (66-87)

Danny Santana, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Aaron Hicks ,  Eduardo Nunez, LF
Jordan Schafer. CF

Trevor May, RHP

Florimon claimed off waivers by Washington

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 18, 2014 - 2:16 PM

The Pedro Florimon era is officially over.

The slick-fielding, feeble-hitting shortstop was claimed off of waivers on Thursday by the Washington Nationals. Florimon was the Twins' Opening Day shortstop but was sent to Class AAA Rochester after batting  .108 in 25 games. He did return for two weeks in June because of injuries.

Florimon batted .257 in 83 games for Rochester.

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