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
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.
Lucas Duda in 2018

Twins release veteran Duda, send four players to the minors

The Twins informed veteran first baseman Lucas Duda that he won't make the team, and have granted him his release to pursue other opportunities.
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.
Martin Perez

New lefty Perez will compete for spot in Twins' starting rotation

Martin Perez potentially adds a lefthander to a rotation that also includes righthanders Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda.
Martin Perez

Twins agree to deal with former Rangers lefthanded pitcher Perez

Perez, 27, has pitched the past seven seasons for the Texas Rangers. He was a starter in 128 of his 141 appearances, going 43-49 with a 4.67 ERA.
Lovable catcher/utility player Willians Astudillo made a lot fans last season in his late call-up by the Twins.

Opinions differ on fan-favorite Astudillo making Twins roster

North Score: Twins beat reporter La Velle E. Neal III and Michael Rand take a look at the case to be made for Willians Astudillo to make the Twins' roster out of spring training.
Miguel Sano

Sano in Dominican playoffs, will miss Caravan and TwinsFest

The slugging third baseman is playing for Estrellas de Oriente in the nine-game series.
Jake Cave was all smiles after hitting a home run in September, and this week tried Spam for the first time at the home of the product in Austin, Minn

Canned answers: Cave, Austin hear from Twins fans in the home of Spam

A Twins Winter Caravan stop in Austin, Minn., on Wednesday meant time for players to talk baseball - and canned meats.

Reliever Blake Parker's deal with Twins includes up to additional $1.4 million for staying healthy

The Twins finalized their deal with Blake Parker on Monday and, to make room on their 40-man roster, designated for reassignment fellow righthanded reliever…
Players who agreed to terms with the Twins include Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano (top); Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson (bottom)

Twins make deals with Sano, Gibson, other arbitration-eligible players

Starters Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson will get hefty raises, as will Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano.
Byron Buxton

Buxton to avoid arbitration, sign $1.7 million deal with Twins

Twins center fielder Byron Buxton gets a raise of more than $1 million from his frustrating 2018.
Twins' Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey right, and Senior Vice President, General Manager Thad Levine

Twins plan: Let free-agent market evolve before making more moves

Baseball's winter meetings came and went without the Twins making a move. Team officials believe conversations they had with agents and teams will pay off later
Reports said the Twins had interest in free-agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz, formerly of the Mariners.

Winter Meetings Confidential: Twins court Cruz, but could fill DH role from within

The Twins were interested in Nelson Cruz as a DH, and a report Tuesday claimed Cruz was choosing between the Twins and Rays
Cody Allen

Looking for relief: Twins checking out Cody Allen, Andrew Miller

The Twins have more interest in Allen than Miller, both of whom have been with Cleveland, according to a source with knowledge of the team's search.
Fernando Romero

Twins think Romero has 'mentality' to be their closer

"I don't think he's scared of [anything] whether he's pitching the first or the ninth," Derek Falvey said about young pitcher Fernando Romero.
Reports said the Twins had interest in free-agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz, formerly of the Mariners.

Twins downplay rumored interest in free agents

The Twins aggressively shot down rumors Monday about their level of interest in a few free agents, such as slugger Nelson Cruz
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano had some lingering soreness this offseason from an injury he suffered in September.

Watching closely: Video helping Twins track Sano's progress

Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey has been able to watch videos of Miguel Sano's workouts instead of relying on written reports and conference calls.
Cody Allen was Cleveland's primary closer last season and could be a good fit for the Twins as a free agent this offseason.

Twins aren't expected to roll the dice in Vegas at winter meetings

The Twins have indicated that next season will be about allowing their young core to continue to develop. So they won't be in the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper free-agent sweepstakes.
Twins manager Rocoo Baldelli at his introductory news conference with Derek Falvey, left, and Thad Levine.

Twins' to-do list at baseball's winter meetings

Twins beat reporter La Velle E. Neal III breaks down what the club needs to do during the winter meetings.
Twins cut ties with Grossman, will sign Cron for $4.8 million

Twins cut ties with Grossman, will sign Cron for $4.8 million

Grossman, a veteran outfielder, was not tendered a contract offer at the Friday deadline.
The Twins added infielders Nick Gordon (pictured) and Luis Arraez and outfielder LaMonte Wade to their 40-man roster Tuesday. Gordon, 23, was the Twin

Twins add Gordon, Arraez and Wade to 40-man roster

The Twins have 38 players on their 40-man roster, which gives them flexibility to add a player through a trade, free agency or the Rule 5 draft scheduled for Dec. 12.
Paul Molitor

Former manager Paul Molitor still pondering staying with Twins

Joe Mauer's news conference brought three former skippers and two ex-general managers back to Target Field.
Minnesota Twins' Brian Dozier congratulates teammate Joe Mauer after Mauer scored on a single by Eddie Rosario in July. Mauer retired on Friday.

'He's the man': Mauer's ex-teammates remember a role model

Joe Mauer made history by becoming the only catcher in major league history to win three batting titles.
Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, right, and General Manager Thad Levine are turning their attention to the Twins’ roster as the GM and winter me

Who is available in free agency to help Twins?

Free agency will be used to supplement the core roster, Derek Falvey said.
Eddie Guardado (left) is among the five coaches let go by the Twins.

Under construction: Twins fire five coaches, Baldelli seeks new look

Rocco Baldelli, at his introductory news conference, spoke of the importance of having coaches from different backgrounds -- and this was the first step.

Names to consider for Twins manager

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine likely will end up with a surprise choice as the next Twins manager. In the past two years, they have added virtual unknowns to the team's coaching staff.
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was introduced to the media Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

Twins' Baldelli rolling up his sleeves as he dives into first managerial role

After winning the news conference on Thursday, it's time for Rocco Baldelli to see what he can do for a Twins team with lots of issues.
Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli set to be next Twins manager

Bench coach Derek Shelton is out of contention to replace the fired Paul Molitor. An announcement on a new manager could come today.
Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli has second interview for Twins manager's job

The former Tampa Bay outfielder has been in the Rays organization as a coach and coordinator since retiring as a player in 2010.
Hensley Meulens

Hensley Meulens interviewing for Twins' manager job today

The San Francisco bench coach has been with the Giants for nine years and was promoted to bench coach in 2018.
Despite being in better shape last year, Miguel Sano struck out 115 times in 299 plate appearances and hit only .199.

Sano, Twins to keep in touch during offseason as he tries to get in shape

The team plans to touch base with the third baseman every 7-10 days.
Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer was greeted by teammates after catching one pitch in the ninth inning. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ � � S

New Twins manager and Mauer's decision: The wait continues

There is not a firm timetable to replace manager Paul Molitor, but there will be interviews in the next week. "We're looking for someone who is truly open-minded," Derek Falvey said.
Joe Mauer played his final game — possibly — on Sept. 30.

New Twins manager and Mauer's decision: The wait continues

There is not a firm timetable to replace manager Paul Molitor, but there will be interviews in the next week. "We're looking for someone who is truly open-minded," Derek Falvey said.
Will Tyler Austin (31) be Joe Mauer's successor at first base for the Twins? He batted .236 with nine homers and 24 RBI in 35 games after joining the

If not Mauer, then who plays first base for the Twins?

As Joe Mauer contemplates ending a 15-year career, we're all left contemplating something else.
Minnesota Twins hitting coach James Rowson, right

Twins hitting coach Rowson interviews for manager job

James Rowson interviewed for the club's vacant managerial position Friday, and the club also has interest in bringing in ex-major leaguers Mark DeRosa and David Ross to discuss the position.
Four of the people who could be candidates to replace Paul Molitor are (clockwise from top left): Cleveland first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Houston

Who's next? Thirteen names to watch for the Twins managing job

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have said it'll take several weeks for them to hire a replacement for fired manager Paul Molitor. Here are some names they could be pondering.
Joe Mauer and Paul Molitor - both Cretin-Derham Hall graduates - exchanged pleasantries in 2001 after Mauer was drafted by the Twins. Now Molitor is o

Mauer 'surprised' by Molitor's firing, will be a factor in his future plans

How does Paul Molitor's firing affect the return of one of his longtime confidants in bullpen coach Eddie Guardado — as well as fellow Cretin-Derham Hall alum Joe Mauer?

Twins fire strength and conditioning coach Castellano, make other changes

The Twins on Tuesday made sweeping changes to their performance staff, including the dismissal of strength and conditioning coordinator Perry Castellano.
Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson

Gibson finishes season strong in 8-3 Twins victory over White Sox

After posting a 5.07 ERA in each of this previous two seasons, Kyle Gibson's mark of 3.62 is the lowest of his career.
The Twins' Joe Mauer hits against the Tigers in the sixth inning Wednesday.

Molitor plans to play Mauer 'as much as we can' this week

"I'd like to play every one of them," Joe Mauer said of the season's final games, which includes a Friday doubleheader against the White Sox.
Twins left fielder Johnny Field makes a sliding catch of a fly ball off the bat of the Tigers' JaCoby Jones during the fifth inning Wednesday.

After career win No. 300, Molitor makes it clear he wants to return

Paul Molitor reached a milestone Wednesday night with the Twins' 11-4 victory over Detroit and said he doesn't "have any doubts" he wants to manage the team in 2019.
Twins third baseman Ehire Adrianza tagged out a leaping JaCoby Jones in the third inning, after Adrianza took a throw from pitcher Kohl Stewart follow

Hildenberger's September struggles continue as Twins fall to Detroit

Hildenberger gave up three hits and walk in the eighth, including RBI singles by Nick Castellanos and Niko Goodrum.
The Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer is congratulated after breaking Harmon Killebrew's on-base record against Detroit on Tuesday.

Mauer breaks Killebrew's on-base record during Twins loss to Tigers

The final week of Joe Mauer's season has begun, and it started with a not-so-random act of Mauerness.
Robbie Grossman

Will Grossman be back with Twins? 'Whatever happens, happens'

The Twins roster is expected to look different next year as they restructure following a season of failed expectations. That makes Robbie Grossman's status for 2019 uncertain.
Ehire Adrianza hit a two-run single off Kansas City Royals pitcher Heath Fillmyer earlier this month.

Ehire Adrianza's first lefty-lefty hit is a double

Ehire Adrianza's 19th double of the season Wednesday might have been his most impressive.
Stephen Gonsalves gave up one hit in six scoreless innings Wednesday in Detroit.

Gonsalves gets first victory as Twins blitz Tigers 8-2 for sweep

Stephen Gonsalves entered in the second inning and picked up his first major league victory, throwing six innings of one-hit baseball.
With the help of manager Paul Molitor and head trainer Tony Leo, Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario came off the field in the fourth inning of Monday ni

Eddie Rosario's season might be over for Twins

The left fielder aggravated a calf injury Monday in Detroit and the team won't push him.
Twins manager Paul Molitor took the ball from pitcher Jake Odorizzi during the seventh inning Tuesday. Odorizzi threw six shutout innings before givin

Jake Odorizzi strong again as Twins top Tigers 5-3 for third consecutive victory

The righthander had his second consecutive impressive start, while Miguel Sano went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in his return.
Monday’s umpires (Jordan Baker, Jerry Layne, Chris Segal and Greg Gibson) posed with Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire and his son, Twins minor league m

Gardenhires are in opposite dugouts with Twins visiting Detroit

It's a family feud of sorts, as Toby Gardenhire gets a chance to face off with his father this week.
Eddie Rosario tried to pick himself off the ground in left field as Jake Cave waited for the training staff to arrive in the fourth inning of the Twin

Kohl Stewart shines, Eddie Rosario injured as Twins beat Detroit 6-1

Eddie Rosario homered in the first inning but had to leave after reinjuring his quadriceps in the fourth.

Concussion diagnosis takes out Mitch Garver

KANSAS CITY, MO – Mitch Garver exercised on an elliptical machine for about 10 minutes on Saturday afternoon, but there wasn't much more planned…
Twins catcher Mitch Garver was hit by a foul ball in the second inning against the Yankees at Target Field on Wednesday

Garver showing no signs of concussion

Twins catcher Mitch Garver took a Luke Voit foul ball of his mask on Wednesday and was not in the lineup Thursday as a precaution.
Miguel Sano grimaced as he was helped onto a cart last week after injuring his left leg sliding into second base. Sano hasn't played since.

Twins face uncertainty over Sano's return from left leg injury

After initially expressing hope Miguel Sano could return to the lineup from a lower left leg injury in a couple of days, the Twins have taken a more cautious approach. He has missed five games.
Byron Buxton was not called up after the Class AAA season, a decision that was met with plenty of skepticism.

Twins try to clear the air with Byron Buxton

Conversations between Twins officials and Byron Buxton were described as positive, and they have been able to explain to Buxton that he remains part of their long-term plans.
Niko Guardado has earned several sitcom roles, including on “The Goldbergs,” and now has a part in “A-X-L,” his first major film.

Former Twins star Guardado has son who's also a star — on silver screen

Eddie Guardado's son, Niko, found his calling in acting, not baseball.
The Astros’ Brian McCann, left, helped Evan Gattis celebrate his two-run homer in the fourth inning Wednesday night. Twins catcher Mitch Garver, bac

Bregman, Astros riddle Twins again for series sweep

Alex Bregman kept up his current hit streak on Wednesday, crushing a two-run home run as part of a 9-1 victory over the Twins.
Twins designated hitter Miguel Sano gets a pat on the back from Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa as he is taken off the field after an injury on

Sano carted off with leg bruise as Twins' 'opener' strategy fails again

Miguel Sano suffered a left leg bruise sliding into second base early in Tuesday night's loss at Houston, in which Trevor May allowed four first-inning runs.
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