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
Eddie Rosario, left, goes through the celebration line with a high-five from coach Tony Diaz after the Twins defeated the Oakland Athletics 6-3

'That's what he does': Rosario's pinch hit, 3-run homer lifts Twins over A's

The Twins, after Eddie Rosario's pinch-hit blast and solo homers by Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron in the eighth inning, beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 to end their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Matt Magill delivered a pitch for the Twins on June 13 at Target Field.

Twins designate Magill for assignment, recall Stewart

Matt Magill has made 28 appearances for the Twins this season, posting a 4.45 ERA. But This move by the Twins removes Magill from the 40-man roster, exposing him to waivers.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) talked with Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson.

Twins won't hesitate to ride Pineda, if he keeps pitching well

Michael Pineda has a 2.83 ERA over his past five starts, leaving any lingering elbow concerns behind after he missed a season because of Tommy John surgery.
The Twins might have both Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron back on the active roster on Tuesday. Both have been on the injured list.

Health an issue as Twins prepare for big nine-game homestand

The Twins are hoping to have their three sidelined starters back for the games against both New York teams and the Oakland A's.
Twins relief pitcher Trevor May regretted leaving an 0-2 breaking ball up to Carlos Santana in the seventh inning Sunday.

After rallying, Twins hopes for sweep crushed by one bad pitch

The Twins tied Sunday's game with a three-run rally before Trevor May threw two fastballs in the upper 90s past Carlos Santana -- and then hung a curve ball.
Twins rookie infielder Luis Arraez led off the eighth inning with a double Sunday, but the Twins left him stranded as the tying run.

Cautious Twins keep Buxton on bench after face-plant catch

Rocco Baldelli did not use the word "concussion" in describing Byron Buxton's condition, but the Twins figure to be careful with the health of their center fielder.
Cleveland All-Star first baseman Carlos Santana celebrated his go-ahead home run Sunday.

Sunday's Twins-Cleveland game recap

A quick look at Sunday's game.
The Twins' Luis Arraez, right, is congratulated by Max Kepler after scoring a run on a two-RBI double in the eighth inning

Kepler's home run binge vs. Bauer continues, Twins top Cleveland

Max Kepler hit two more home runs off Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, giving him five for the season, and the Twins won again.
Eddie Rosario.

Rosario not yet ready to return to Twins lineup

Eddie Rosario, out since June 26, hoped to return this weekend in Cleveland but could remain on the injured list until next week.
Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco celebrate after defeating the Indians on Friday night.

Reviewed play at first helps Twins rally to beat Indians to start second half

After the Twins won a challenged play at first base in the seventh inning, Jorge Polanco took advantage of the extended inning and ripped a two-run double to spark the comeback.
Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, center, scores on a passed ball as pitcher Martin Perez, right, waits during a game in June.

Twins vs. Cleveland: Let the big games begin

The Twins threatened to run away with the AL Central before hitting a 9-10 stretch right before the All-Star break that allowed Cleveland to chop Minnesota's lead to 5 1/2 games. Tonight is the first of 13 remaining games between the teams.
Secrets of Twins' surge? Fresh approach to pitching, power

Secrets of Twins' surge? Fresh approach to pitching, power

The Twins start the second half of their season with a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League Central. One reason for the success? New approaches to old issues. Our baseball writers go deep looking at some of the changes.
Miguel Sano(22) scores on Byron Buxton triple in the second inning.

After loss, Twins say they're not fretting despite shrinking lead

Rougned Odor's three-run homer off in the 11th inning was the decisive blow in a 4-1 loss to Rangers, a game that was antithetical to how the Twins rose to the top of the AL Central.
Cody Allen

Bullpen updates: Allen sharp at Ft. Myers. What's up with Hildenberger?

Former Cleveland reliever Cody Allen is trying to work his way back to the majors while a couple of others who were thought to be key parts of the Twins bullpen are sidelined at Rochester.
Adalberto Mejia is back with the Twins after spending two months on the injured list, and the Twins are hoping the lefthander can help boost their bul

Twins seeking pitching depth inside and outside the organization

TWINS INSIDER It's notable that both Adalberto Mejia and Zack Littell returned to the club in the past week.
The Twins' Miguel Sano tossed his bat after striking out as Athletics catcher Chris Herrmann ran to the dugout during the seventh inning of Oakland's

Twins' poor road trip is hard to write off after loss to Oakland

The pitching staff takes more lumps, as does the team's once-cushy lead over the Indians in the AL Central.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said he could use Marwin Gonzalez if he really wanted to, but preferred to give him another day to let his injured right

Twins' versatile Gonzalez being kept on sidelines

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said he could use Marwin Gonzalez if he really wanted to, but preferred to give him another day to let his injured right big toe heal.
The Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates after scoring against Oakland in the 12th inning on Wednesday

Twins give a little bit extra, edge Oakland 4-3 in 12 innings

Mitch Garver's sharp single to left scored Byron Buxton in the 12th inning to complete the Twins' rally in Oakland.
Jose Berrios tipped his hat to the crowd at Target Field earlier this season.

Twins pitcher Berrios added to All-Star roster

Jose Berrios, who is 8-4 with a 2.89 ERA, will replace injured teammate Jake Odorizzi on the AL squad.
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi (12) met with teammates, manager Rocco Baldelli and trainer Tony Leo on the mound in the fourth inning Tuesday night at Oa

Blister derails Odorizzi's night vs. A's, and chance to pitch in All-Star Game

The Twins pitcher is headed for the injured list after getting hit hard at Oakland.
Wander Javier was signed in 2015 as a 16-year-old and is one of the Twins’ top prospects.

Outfielder Rodriguez will be Twins' top international signing

International prospects have power potential.
Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe dove save into home ahead of the tag by Twins catcher Jason Castro for the game-winning run in the 18th inning.

Not this time: Extra-innings tested Twins lose 18-inning game to Rays

After a 57-minute rain delay before first pitch, the Twins and Rays played a 5:42 game in which Minnesota struck out 22 times.
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco

Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco will start All-Star Game

Jorge Polanco is the first Minnesota starter since Joe Mauer in 2013, and the third Twins shortstop to start a Midsummer Classic.

Wade called up by Twins to help depleted outfield

LaMonte Wade Jr., a University of Maryland product, is batting .248 with five homers and 24 RBI in 70 games for the Red Wings with 51 walks and 43 strikeouts.
Luis Arraez's major league career is off to a roaring start, with hits in 13 of his 15 games with the Twins.

'Natural-born hitter.' Rookie Arraez makes case to stay in majors

When Luis Arraez steps to the plate, his head is on a swivel like a quarterback going through his progressions. He's looking at the defense to see where he can hit the ball.
Byron Buxton landed on the injured list after getting hit by a pitch on his right wrist.

'It felt pretty good.' Twins want Buxton 100% healthy before using him

The center fielder says he is getting close to returning, but it's unclear if that means if he will be back Tuesday.
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco got a forceout of Whit Merrifield before throwing to first in the seventh inning Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Both teams

Shorthanded Twins lose to Royals, lead now at eight games

It's still a comfortable lead, so the short-term question is: When will the Twins start looking like themselves again?
Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios, left, shows his blistered finger to catcher Willians Astudillo during the eighth inning

Berrios leaves game with blister, Twins work extras to win 50th game

Jose Berrios put on a strike-throwing clinic until the eighth, then his precious right hand let him down. He left with a blister on his ring finger before C.J. Cron and Eddie Rosario batted in runs in the 10th.
Cody Allen

Twins sign former Cleveland closer Allen to minor league deal

Cody Allen, who is the Indians all-time saves leader with 149, was released by the Angels this week.
Twins catcher Willians Astudillo tagged out Whit Merrifield as the Royals wasted a first-inning chance.

Twins go from first-inning jam to a near-triple play

The Twins were inches — or maybe an interference call — away from a triple play in the first inning Saturday.
The Royals' Alex Gordon was hit in the helmet by a ball thrown by Twins third baseman Willians Astudillo during the first inning Thursday.

Odorizzi's 10-game winning streak ends in sloppy loss to Royals

Jake Odorizzi lasted only four innings, leading to Minnesota's fourth loss in its past five games, and the Twins defense continued its sloppy play with three more errors.
Twins lefthander Martin Perez reached out to former Twins ace Johan Santana for advice last weekend at Target Field when Santana was one of a few doze

Twins' Perez gets a pep talk from former ace Santana

Martin Perez reached out to Santana for advice last weekend at Target Field when Santana was one of a few dozen players on hand to celebrate the retirement of Joe Mauer's No. 7.
Eddie Rosario leads the Twins with 19 home runs and is tied for sixth in MLB.

Birth of the Bombasquad: Twins have reached baseball's pinnacle of power

A group of returning Twins were becoming comfortable with their swings and were eager to influence games. Mixing in some veteran newcomers gave them a recipe for a new identity.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was checked by trainer Tony Leo and manager Rocco Baldelli after Buxton was hit in the hand while batting Friday. Bu

Twins taking cautious approach with Buxton; Cave recalled

Having sat out two games after being hit by a pitch Friday, Byron Buxton put the wrist to the test before Monday's game against Boston and was held out of the lineup.

Byron Buxton, Ehire Adrianza both placed on injured list

There is a chance that Byron Buxton's right wrist could heal well enough for him to return to action over the next few days…
Twins starter Jose Berrios was congratulated by pitching coach Wes Johnson after Berrios threw eight innings against Boston, giving up only one first-

Battle of gems: Twins shut down by Boston as Porcello outpitches Berrios

Rick Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, held the Twins to four hits and one walk in seven innings. Jose Berrios shut down the Red Sox in his eight innings after giving up hits to the first three Boston batters.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver gave a curtain call from the dugout after hitting a game-winning, two-run home run in the eighth inning Friday night.

Garver's homer backs Gibson's gem as Twins edge Royals 2-0

The Twins offense came up empty until their penultimate at-bat, when Mitch Garver launched a two-run homer to center field.
Twins righthander Zack Littell pitched at Texas last year.

Zack Littell is latest reliever to be called up by Twins

Fernando Romero's latest stint in the big leagues lasted all of one day.
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) celebrated as he crossed home plate after hitting a home run in the third inning. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE

Cruz leads attack as Twins bust open close game, beat Seattle 10-5

Nelson Cruz hit his fifth home run in eight games since returning from an wrist injured that sidelined him for several weeks and added a two-RBI single, too.
Twins pitcher Fernando Romero

Romero stumbles in his latest call-up to Twins

Fernando Romero had only earned his first save at any level Tuesday, but the 24-year-old Dominican's transition from being a starter to a reliever is going rougher than everyone imagined.
Eddie Rosario put a big hug around Jonathan Schoop after hitting the last of the Twins’ four home runs Sunday, a solo shot that was Rosario’s 19th

Back to bombs away: Twins hit four homers in crushing Detroit

Four more home runs not only pushed their major league-leading total to 125, it tied the Twins' 55-year-old record for home runs before the All-Star break.
Jake Odorizzi and catcher Mitch Garver shared a hug after Odorizzi’s latest outing ended with six strong innings in Detroit on Sunday.

Twins' Odorizzi continues to lean on fastball for success

In six innings against the Tigers on Sunday, Jake Odorizzi gave up one run on five hits and one walk with eight more strikeouts. He has an 0.40 ERA over his past four outings.
The Tigers' Nicholas Castellanos slides safely into home plate under the tag of Twins catcher Jason Castro in the fifth inning

Rare day of silence as Detroit clobbers Twins 9-3

JaCoby Jones homered twice for the Tigers, who finished with 15 hits while the Twins stayed uncharacteristically quiet.
Twins put newly recalled reliever Eades right to work

Twins put newly recalled reliever Eades right to work

Ryan Eades on Saturday pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut for the Twins, arriving to the ballpark just before first pitch.
Twins DH Nelson Cruz

Twins activate Nelson Cruz, ship Luis Arraez to minors

The Twins rolled to a 21-8 record in May, making it easier for them to take a conservative approach with their designated hitter.
The Twins are interested in signing closer Craig Kimbrel, left, and starter Dallas Keuchel, moves that would fortify the pitching staff of a club that

Twins have interest in signing free-agent pitchers Kimbrel, Keuchel

The market had dried up for both veteran pitchers because teams would have needed to forfeit a draft pick for signing them before baseball's amateur draft, which starts today.
The Twins’ Byron Buxton slid home to score in front of Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino during the fifth inning Sunday.

Odorizzi, Buxton lead Twins past Rays, to 11 1/2-game lead in AL Central

Jake Odorizzi and Byron Buxton provided the sparks to lead the Twins to a 7-0 lead, and the Twins survived a scary ending to win 9-7 for their 40th victory of the season.
Twins General Manager Thad Levine and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey are ready for the first round of the MLB draft Monday.

For Twins' draft, top pitchers might be out of arm's reach

Despite a never-ending quest to develop starting pitching, the Twins are likely to pick a position player in the first round of the major league baseball draft. Here's why.
Byron Buxton

Twins get their home-run groove back in 6-2 win over Rays

Minnesota's offense resembled the roaring engine like it was for most of May, and Kyle Gibson cruised.
Minnesota Twins' Nelson Cruz waits to bat against the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mon

Twins send Cruz on rehab assignment; could return Tuesday

Nelson Cruz, batting .270 with seven homers and 22 RBI in 35 games, hasn't played since May 12 because of a strained left wrist.
Twins relief pitcher Adalberto Mejia has been on the injured list since May 1.

Twins coaches look in on Mejia's progress at Fort Myers

Adalberto Mejia, who has been recovering from a right calf strain for a month, has been working out in Fort Myers. That's less than two hours away from St. Petersburg, where the Twins are this weekend.
The Twins' Eddie Rosario celebrates his two-run single off Tampa Bay relief pitcher Adam Kolarek with first base coach Tommy Watkins

It's no 'bomba' but Rosario's bouncer sends Twins to victory over Rays

The Twins loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning, and Eddie Rosario came through with a two-run single to back up an eight-strikeout night from Jose Berrios.
Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, center, takes starting pitcher Martin Perez, left out of the baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays during t

The wheels fall off: Twins trail 11-0 after four, lose 14-3 to Tampa Bay

Martin Perez, working with extra rest, was knocked out during the third inning as the Twins tied for their most lopsided defeat of the season in the opener of a 10-game road trip.
The Twins' Jorge Polanco did not start Thursday.

Polanco ailing with illness, but available for Rays series

Jorge Polanco, who is in the top 10 in several offensive categories, did not start Thursday because of illness. The Twins said Polanco was available off the bench.
The Twins' Max Kepler jumped for joy and greeted Martin Gonzalez, right, after Kepler's three-run homer off White Sox pitcher Josh Osich in the sevent

Twins crush White Sox with more clutch pitching, power hitting

Twins Insider: The team's energy and success is setting the table for something bigger.
Starter Jake Odorizzi, left, and right fielder Max Kepler contributed to the Twins' 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Sunday despite feeling under the

Odorizzi, Kepler perform well while battling illness

Teams have to overcome illness as well as injuries during the season. Jake Odorizzi and Max Kepler are the latest examples of players being able to focus enough to contribute.
Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson throws against the White Sox in the first inning Saturday

Big crowd energizes Gibson as Twins keep rolling with win over White Sox

Kyle Gibson retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced and Ehire Adrianza blasted a three-run home run to right field in the eighth inning to put the game away in front of 39,139 fans at Target Field.
Kohl Stewart has made two fill-in starts for the Twins this season, and he's not alone in young arms who are capable.

Twins have starting pitching depth in minor leagues, too

As the summer rolls on, it will take more than the six starters the Twins have used to keep their momentum going toward the finish line. So pitchers such as Devin Smeltzer are worth watching.
It’s good news for catcher Mitch Garver, who has been out since a home plate collision with Shohei Ohtani.

Garver's recovery from ankle injury progressing nicely

Injured Twins catcher Mitch Garver has been running some and getting his swings in as he recovers from a mild high ankle sprain suffered May 14.
Nelson Cruz (23) and Eddie Rosario celebrated after scoring on C.J. Cron's RBI double against the Astros in Houston.

Cruz has 'good day' but not quite ready to return to Twins

Nelson Cruz, batting .270 with seven homers and 22 RBI, hasn't played since May 14 because of a left wrist strain.
The Twins' Max Kepler hit a two-run single to right field off White Sox pitcher Jace Fry during the fifth inning

Twins work out of early hole, pound White Sox with more homers

The Twins trailed by three, but wound up routing the White Sox 11-4 and in the process ran their season home run total to 101, becoming the second MLB team to reach at least 100 homers in 50 games.
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.
More from Star Tribune