Staff Directory 10645506

La Velle E. Neal III

Reporter | Minnesota Twins
Phone: 612.674.4888
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

La Velle E. Neal III is a baseball writer for the Star Tribune. He has over 20 years of experience covering the Minnesota Twins on and off the field. La Velle has helped out with basketball, football and college football coverage between baseball seasons.


A native of Chicago, La Velle has covered the Minnesota Twins since 1998. He also covered the Kansas City Royals for the Kansas City Star from 1995 through 1997. A graduate of the University of Illinois - Chicago, La Velle is a former president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Recent content from La Velle E. Neal III
Miguel Sano was in the Twins dugout during Wednesday’s game but did not play. The third baseman missed the season’s first 42 games because of a he

There's no immediate pressure on Sano in his return to Twins

Called up from his rehab assignment at Class AAA Rochester on Wednesday, Miguel Sano might want to be 'Superman.' But the Twins don't need him to be a hero.
Twins catcher Jason Castro celebrated a two-run homer with Twins shortstop Ehire Adrianza during the sixth inning.

Twins survive Angels ninth-inning comeback try; ineffective Hildenberger demoted

Los Angeles railed for three runs in the ninth, when the Angels batted around and had the bases loaded before Shohei Ohtani grounded into a force play to end the game.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver was helped off the field after he was injured tagging out the Angels' Shohei Ohtani in the eighth inning Tuesday night. Gar

Losing Garver's bat will leave hole in Twins lineup

The catcher, having a great start, will be out because of a high ankle sprain suffered Tuesday night.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver was injured in a collision at home plate with the Angels' Shohei Ohtani in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

Twins hold off Angels; Garver hurt preventing game-tying run

The Twins took a four-run lead through four innings, then hung on — including play at the plate that injured catcher Mitch Garver in the eighth inning — to nip the Angels.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios watched a home run hit by Shohei Ohtani in the third inning.

Berrios struggles early, often as Twins get edged by Angels

A struggling Jose Berrios, coupled with a sputtering offense in the late innings, led to a 5-4 loss to the Angels at Target Field.
Marwin Gonzalez has made 30 starts at third base for the Twins this season while Miguel Sano works his way back from a lacerated heel that knocked him

Twins newcomer Gonzalez ready to plug any position

There's no question Marwin Gonzalez can handle any defensive assignment Twins manager Rocco Baldelli asks of him.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said he could try to swing a bat as soon as Tuesday but will be smart about not overdoing it with his injured wris

Twins' Cruz hurting, but MRI on wrist shows no serious damage

Cruz said he could try to swing a bat as soon as Tuesday but will be smart about testing the injury.
Jake Odorizzi, Friday night’s starter for the Twins, is 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA, and he has a 1.11 ERA since April 15.

For starters, Twins pitching has been 'phenomenal' for nearly a month

Since Martin Perez joined the Twins starting rotation on April 15, the unit has a 3.08 ERA and is one of a few reasons why the team enters Friday's weekend home series with the best record in baseball.
The Twins' Jorge Polanco celebrates his home run with teammate Max Kepler as Toronto catcher Luke Maile looks on during the second inning

Gibson dazzles on the mound, marvels at teammates as Twins sweep

The Twins on Wednesday hit four more home runs, and Kyle Gibson turned in an 11-strikeout gem for the team's 23rd win. Minnesota has the best record in baseball.
Mitch Garver hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre

Bruised by bat, Garver bruises Jays with long homer in another Twins shutout

Mitch Garver was struck by part of a shattered bat in the first inning, then smashed a second-deck home run to lead the Twins to a 3-0 victory. Jose Berrios pitched seven innings of the shutout.
Twins first baseman C.J. Cron caught a popup April 30 vs. Houston.

Cron can catch for Twins in an emergency

With the Twins down to one healthy catcher Tuesday, C.J. Cron caught Jake Odorizzi's bullpen session to polish up some rusty skills - just in case.
The Twins' Eddie Rosario, right, celebrated his fifth-inning home run against Toronto with teammate Marwin Gonzalez on Monday.

Perez' pitching, Twins' offense too much for Toronto in 8-0 win

In seven innings, Martin Perez gave up two singles and two walks while striking out a career-high nine batters. He was supported by a 12-hit attack that featured three home runs.
Twins righthander Addison Reed, who has been slowed because of a left thumb sprain, finally will start a minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesda

Twins reliever Reed to start rehabilitation at Class AAA

Righthander Addison Reed, who has been slowed because of a left thumb sprain, finally will start a minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesday when he pitches as the opener for Class AAA Rochester.
Michael Pineda made only a few mistakes, but they were enough to put the Twins into a hole from which they couldn't recover.

Pineda controls emotions better than pitches in 4-1 loss to Yankees

The first-place Twins had their chances to rally against Yankees starter Domingo German, but couldn't get out of an early hole in the rain-shortened game.
After bashing nine homers over a 12-game span last month, the Twins' Eddie Rosario has been sitting on 11 homers since April 26, a span of 31 plate ap

Twins' Rosario fighting through slump

The Twins left fielder didn't play Friday but ended an 0-for-24 skid with a hit Saturday, then beat out a grounder hit to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu in the fourth inning of Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Yankees.
The Twins are owners of the best record in baseball.

MLB-best Twins have demonstrated they know how to win -- so far

The Twins have fired out to a 20-11 start, the best record in baseball. And they were just as composed Saturday while discussing their victory as they were Friday after they committed two errors in a loss.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi throws a pitch to New York Yankees’ Mike Tauchman during the third inning Saturday, May 4, 2019, in N

Odorizzi pitches Twins out of Yankee Stadium slump

Jake Odorizzi pitched six scoreless innings, holding New York to two hits; Mitch Garver, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz hit home runs for the Twins.
Blake Parker celebrated with catcher Jason Castro after striking out the Toronto Blue Jays' Brandon Drury last month.

Twins bullpen shows off its versatility

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli on Saturday showed a way he can vary his bullpen usage.
New York Yankees' Gary Sanchez, left, celebrates with teammate Gleyber Torres, center, as Twins catcher Mitch Garver looks away during the seventh inn

More of the same: Twins lose 6-3 at Yankee Stadium

Gary Sanchez hit a pair of home runs to lead the Yankees to their ninth consecutive home win - and 14th in the past 15 - over the Twins.
The Twins' Willians Astudillo

Astudillo 'ready to come back' as soon as next week

All indications are Willians Astudillo's hamstring strain is not serious. He was injured on Saturday while scoring on a sacrifice fly.
Houston's Jake Marisnick celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring in the third inning against the Twins on Tuesday

Everything falls apart for a night in Twins' 11-0 loss to Houston

Houston's Gerrit Cole, who had one win and a 4.73 ERA in his first six starts, limited the Twins to one hit and struck out 11 in seven innings. The Astros pounded seven extra-base hits off Michael Pineda and the pitchers who followed him.
The Twins' Ehire Adrianza

Adrianza's confidence returns following surgery

Every play Ehire Adrianza makes is further proof that his surgically repaired left shoulder is holding up.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano

Sano will begin rehab assignment on Tuesday

Miguel Sano has been working his way back from an injury at the end of the Dominican Winter League season.
The Twins' Max Kepler celebrates Saturday's victory over Baltimore with teammates C.J. Cron and Marwin Gonzalez. All three homered in the game.

Twins turn Target Field into launch pad again in win over Baltimore

Jose Berrios struck out eight and the Twins belted five home runs Saturday, continuing their assault on Orioles pitching. It's the 11th consecutive victory over Baltimore.
Nelson Cruz is greeted by teammate Eddie Rosario after hitting a solo homer during the first inning

Triple threat: Twins turn on the power again to beat Orioles

Back-to-back-to-back homers from the Twins in the first inning highlighted another barrage against Baltimore, this time 6-1 at Target Field.
Matt Magill was placed on the injured list on March 28.

Reliever Magill back with Twins from Rochester

Matt Magill was 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA for the Twins last season, pitching 56⅔ innings over 40 appearances.
Ryne Harper

Harper showing Twins he finds major leagues to his liking

Ryne Harper, a 30-year-old rookie, is only the fifth Twins reliever since 2017 to pitch at least three innings and give up no more than one hit.
Twins reliever Adalberto Mejia watched as Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernandez headed home after he connected for a three run homer in the eighth

Mejia's awful inning sinks Twins in front of Target Field's smallest crowd

Rocco Baldelli chose Adalberto Mejia to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning. The first four Toronto batters he faced turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 victory for Toronto in front of an announced crowd of 11,727.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, left, and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli posed with umpires before Monday's game at Target Field. The two friends wer

New skippers Baldelli, Montoyo are old friends

They forged a close relationship while coaching on the same staff with the Rays and now are first-year managers.
Eddie Rosario (20) celebrates his home run in the seventh inning.

Twins overcome rough start, shaky ending with middle-inning offense

Home runs by C.J. Cron and Eddie Rosario were among seven extra-base hits that allowed the Twins to survive a shaky opening and late struggles by two relievers in a 6-4 victory.
Byron Buxton, left, and Jorge Polanco celebrated the Twins' 6-4 victory over the Tigers on Sunday. In the third inning, Buxton again slammed against t

Another highlight-reel catch in center field for Twins' Buxton

Buxton added 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason, he said, so he could handle crashes into the wall like on Sunday.
Jonathan Scoop came to the Twins as a free agent during the offseason.

Twins second baseman Schoop is hot, but the weather is not

Consecutive idle days for the Twins - one scheduled, one due to the recent late-winter storm - come just when Jonathan Schoop was showing signs of getting in that groove he desperately seeks.
Andrew Vasquez during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

Twins call up Vasquez, send De Jong to minors

Andrew Vasquez was brought into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning on Wednesday. He faced three batters, hitting Brandon Nimmo before walking Pete Alonso and Robinson Cano. Each time a run was forced in.
The Twins' Jonathan Schoop rounded the bases after hitting a sixth-inning solo home run -- his first of two homers, and one of six hit by the Twins --

Twins rough up deGrom, belt six homers to romp over Mets

Mitch Garver and Jonathan Schoop each homered twice.
With snow expected in the Twins Cities this week, the Twins are concerned that it will upset the schedule they have for lefthander Martin Perez to mer

Forecast alters Twins' pitching plans

The Twins plan to use lefthander Martin Perez during this week's series against the Mets, in case games are affected by weather when the Tigers roll into town later in the week.
Dallas Keuchel remains a free agent more than a week into the MLB season.

Free agent Keuchel remains off Twins' radar

The Twins appear to be more interested in seeing what they have than in contacting Dallas Keuchel about his modified contract demands.
Jose Berrios was a tough-luck loser on Sunday.

Berrios' one mistake is costly for Twins in loss to Phillies

Jose Berrios did all he could to make Max Kepler's first career leadoff home run hold up until he ran into Rhys Hoskins with a man on third and two out in the sixth.
Willians Astudillo rounded the bases after homering off Jake Arrieta on Saturday.

Twins show home run power, slug their way past Phillies

Max Kepler and Willians Astudillo hit back-to-back homers early and Eddie Rosario added a three-run homer in the ninth; Michael Pineda picked up his first win with the Twins.
Chase De Jong

De Jong's arrival means Tyler Austin's departure from Twins

On Saturday, the Twins promoted righthander Chase De Jong to help out a suddenly taxed bullpen. Tyler Austin paid the price with his roster spot.
Philadelphia Phillies’ Andrew McCutchen, bottom, scores past Minnesota Twins catcher Jason Castro during the first inning of a baseball game Friday,

Sloppy defense, pitching spoil Polanco's five-hit cycle in loss to Phillies

Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi failed to get out of the first inning, and the Twins unraveled from there save for Jorge Polanco's big night at the plate.
Byron Buxton

Twins' Buxton given extra time for sore back to heal

Byron Buxton on Wednesday smashed into the center-field wall at Kansas City.
Jason Castro made a throw during a workout for catchers at spring training.

Three's a crowd for Twins at catcher

The Twins want to use all three of their catchers, and each started a game in the series against Cleveland. One of new manager Rocco Baldelli's early challenges is to determine who catches and when.
Willians Astudillo’s day of productive plate appearances included getting hit by Shane Bieber’s first pitch of the eighth inning, which drew the i

Astudillo thrills Twins fans, then gets plunked in season debut

Fan favorite Willians Astudillo had two doubles, a sacrifice fly and an excellent defensive play in his first 2019 start. He was also hit by a pitch in the eighth inning, a play that had teammates grumbling.
Grounds crew members shoveled snow at Target Field as they prepped for opening day

Early-season off days a 'waste,' and present a challenge to Twins

The Twins have five scheduled days off before April 12. That's the most in the league, and presents a unique circumstance for rookie manager Rocco Baldelli.
Twins third baseman Marwin Gonzalez looked to the dugout after hitting a two-run double Thursday off Indians star Corey Kluber.

Saying hello: Newcomers come through for the win

For the Twins' new crew, it was their how-do-you-do moment as they finally solved two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the seventh inning of the 2-0 victory.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) stretched with his teammates Wednesday.

Goals: What does Jose Berrios really want?

After another winter of relentless workouts, Jose Berrios is ready to tackle the goals he's established for himself. At age 24, he will be the youngest pitcher to start for the Twins on Opening Day in more than two decades.
(From left) Reliever Blake Parker, starter Michael Pineda and shortstop Jorge Polanco all could play pivotal roles in the Twins' 2019 season.

Let the real games begin: Five keys to 2019 success for the Twins

It won't be long before all the Twins' offseason work — starting with the hiring of Rocco Baldelli to replace Paul Molitor — will be put to the test. What needs to go right for the Twins to be successful this season?
The Twins likely will make a final decision Wednesday on whether shortstop Jorge Polanco will be available Opening Day.

Twins' roster decision on Polanco still unsettled

Jorge Polanco on Tuesday went through fielding drills with no setbacks, then the shortstop went to the back fields and was the designated hitter in a minor league intrasquad game.
Ryne Harper

Twins roster nearly set as Ryne Harper makes the team

The veteran reliever, who turns 30 on Wednesday, has yet to debut in the major leagues. He earned his spot by not allowing a run this spring.
The Yankees are looking for another big year from right fielder Aaron Judge.

La Velle E. Neal III's AL power rankings

Once again, it appears the Yankees and Red Sox are the teams to beat.
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber has won two AL Cy Young Awards, but he didn't win a third in 2018 despite recording the first 20-win season of his career.

Until proven otherwise. Cleveland is king of the AL Central

Cleveland still sports one of the most impressive rotations in the major leagues.
Twins reliever Matt Magill is recovering from biceps tendinitis and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Twins day at camp: Matt Magill won't be ready for Opening Day

The righthander is expected to begin the season on the injured list.
Shortstop Corey Seager is back for the Dodgers after missing most of 2018 because of injury.

La Velle E. Neal III's NL power rankings

The two-time defending NL champions head the list.
Twins lefthander Martin Perez earlier this spring.

Martin Perez shows off live arm but Twins fall to Yankees

The veteran lefthander has demonstrated increased velocity this spring, but he wasn't able to finish off hitters Sunday.
Manager Rocco Baldelli explained his vision: “We’re going to get our best when these guys are freed up in every possible way — on the field, off

Game changer: New Twins manager Baldelli doesn't do much by the book

This spring the Twins got a crash course in the game according to Rocco. The new manager has nontraditional ways to put his charges in the best position to thrive, part of the reason he was hired.
Fernando Romero

Romero falters again as Twins lose to Pirates

Fernando Romero imploded for the second consecutive outing as the Twins lost to Pittsburgh 6-5 at Hammond Stadium.
Players and coaches watched as catchers took batting practice Saturday, a pregame insitution that might happen less often now.

On-field batting practice no longer the only pregame option for Twins hitters

The Twins are allowing players to select their pregame hitting drills a-la-carte. The Twins routinely cancel on-field batting practice on day games following night games and are willing to scratch it more often.

MLB, players union agree to some rule changes before contract is up

Most notably: There will be a single trade deadline, All-Stars will be voted in on an Election Day, rosters will be expanded from 25 to 26 players and the injured list will be lengthened for pitchers.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, center, joked with bench coach Derek Shelton last month. The duo worked together in the Rays organization.

Shelton's behind-the-scenes work eases job for Baldelli

The Twins bench coach — a holdover from Paul Molitor's staff — and new manager coordinate on all matters.
Kohl Stewart impressed in his first taste of major league action in 2018, but the 2013 Twins first-round draft pick will begin the 2019 season in the

Twins day at camp: Kohl Stewart is a surprise among team's first cuts

The former first-round pick posted a 3.68 ERA over eight appearances with the Twins last year.
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23)

Nelson Cruz makes appearance as Twins tie Rays

The veteran designated hitter had an RBI single in three at-bats for his new team.
Royce Lewis is the Twins’ top prospect, even if he won’t see action in spring training.

Twins prospect Lewis off the field, but still in the game while healing

Slowed by a right oblique strain on Feb. 22 during a drill that might keep him out of games until he's cut from camp, Royce Lewis nevertheless is absorbing knowledge from Twins veterans and coaches.
Miguel Sano has worn a boot on his right foot since the Twins started full squad workouts in spring training.

Sano 'out of the picture' after procedure on heel, likely until May

A device to help flush the wound will be used for about a week, then Twins third baseman will be in a protective walking boot again. Trainer Tony Leo called it "an aggressive intervention."
C.J. Cron followed through on a third-inning, two-run home run Monday.

Gibson debuts for Twins; Cron homers twice in loss

Kyle Gibson is easing his way back from a bout with E. coli.
Tim Collins delivered a pitch under the watchful eye of Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson on Feb. 17. Collins, 29, is in camp as a nonroster invitee, t

Collins trying to climb back with Twins, two Tommy John surgeries later

Tim Collins wants to show the Twins he belongs. "He's close," assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said.
Martin Perez made his spring debut on Saturday against the Red Sox.

Sales pitch: Perez believes Twins can return him to winning form

Lefthanded pitcher Martin Perez will be added to the rotation after the team sold him with a solid offseason presentation, heavy on analytics.
Jake Odorizzi delivered a pitch in the bullpen Tuesday at the Twins complex under the watchful eye of pitching coach Wes Johnson.

Breaking bad habits: Odorizzi works on fixing flaws in delivery

Jake Odorizzi believes that he developed bad habits in 2017 with Tampa Bay when he pitched with a sore back.
Minnesota Twins Major League advance scout Frankie Padulo gave directions to position players during the first day of full squad workouts Monday.

A new approach to preparation as Twins' full squad arrives for camp

New manager Rocco Baldelli has created a program to simulate game action as much as possible during the workouts. That has led to some eye-opening changes.that are low on idle time and high on production.
Wes Johnson is believed to be the first pitching coach to come straight from college to the pros; Johnson was most recently at Arkansas.

New Twins pitching coach is cut from a different cloth

Wes Johnson's style and background stand out. The Twins pitching coach is just getting to know his new team, but already he is keeping things lively.
Twins pitcher Trevor Hildenberger worked out at Hammond Stadium on the first day of pitchers and catchers

Changes to Twins camp clear on first day

Rocco Baldelli is putting his stamp on Twins spring camp.
Twins righthander Kyle Gibson, 31, went 10-13 last season, but had career bests in ERA (3.62) and strikeouts (179).

Putting the 'ugh' in ugly: Gibson battles his toughest foe with E. coli

Following a three-week bout with E. coli he contracted during an offseason mission trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson is in camp and ready to get stronger.
Banners depicting Twins stars hung from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers on Monday. Twins pitchers and catchers report to training camp Wednesday.

Twins seek long-term deals with core players, will wait on Sano, Buxton

The Twins are working this week to sign some of their young players to contracts that would last through their arbitration-eligible years. Who's on the list?
Nelson Cruz made it to TwinsFest on Sunday, the third and final day of the event. He met his new teammates and coaches, pretended it wasn’t cold out

Bringing bat and wisdom, Cruz ready to mentor with Twins

Nelson Cruz looks at his new Twins teammates and it reminds him of the teams he played for when he was young. But now, at age 39, he'll be the one giving out advice.
Jonathan Schoop said injuries derailed his 2018 campaign and that he tried too often to be the “hero” after he returned.

'Confident' Schoop, Twins betting on a bounce-back season

Jonathan Schoop, a former All-Star second baseman, said he is confident he can regain his top-notch form.
7-year-old Zach Hodgson relaxed in the Twins clubhouse during last year's TwinsFest at Target Field.

This weekend's TwinsFest means spring training isn't far behind

More than 65 current and former players and coaches will be at TwinsFest this weekend, with spring training only a few weeks away and fans anticipating the upcoming season.
More from Star Tribune