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
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda

Pineda gets new deal with Twins, must complete drug suspension

the Twins agreed to re-sign the free agent righthander to a two-year contract worth $20 million. He'll be sidelined until early May to finish his 60-game suspension.
Zack Wheeler was 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA for the Mets last season.

Wheeler had $100 million offer from Twins, took richer deal from Phillies

The Twins now will move on with their list of candidates, including lefty Madison Bumgarner, who had a bounceback season in 2019.
Rocco Baldelli, right, has lost his bench coach, hitting coach and assistant bullpen coach from his first year with the Twins, but the AL Manager of t

Baldelli's challenges: Get free agents, replacements for departed coaches

Twins Insider: The Twins are unlikely to go after über aces Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg in free agency, but they have interest in the next tier of pitchers.
Jorge Polanco homered in the opening game of the ALDS in Yankee Stadium on Oct. 4.

Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco has ankle surgery

The All-Star had arthroscopic debridement on his right ankle Friday in Los Angeles.
Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, right, talked with Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman during workouts in March at Target Field.

Twins bench coach Derek Shelton will manage Pirates

Derek Shelton, who replaces Clint Hurdle, beat Matt Quatraro for the job.
Kyle Gibson pitched seven seasons for the Twins.

Former Twins pitcher Gibson to sign with Texas for 3 years, $30 million

After seven seasons in Minnesota, the team let him go as a free agent.
Jeremy Hefner was an advance scout for the Twins before being named assistant pitching coach for the 2019 season.

Twins losing assistant pitching coach Hefner to Mets

The 33-year-old was an advance scout for the Twins before joining the coaching staff last season.
New Twins hitting coach Edgar Varela (left, with former manager Paul Molitor) spent 10 years with the Pirates before joining the Twins' minor league s

'Pressure is a privilege.' Twins' new hitting coach welcomes challenge

The Twins looked at candidates within and outside the organization, and also received feedback from players before name Edgar Varela hitting coach.
Edgar Varela (left, with former manager Paul Molitor) will join the major league staff as hitting coach, replacing James Rowson, after spending the pa

Twins will name Edgar Varela as hitting coach, replacing Rowson

Edgar Varela, 39, will join the major league staff after spending the past two seasons as Twins' minor league field coordinator.
Twins position players huddled in the outfield during spring training in February.

Twins add five players to roster, including hard-throwing Duran

The Twins added five minor leaguers to their 40-man roster, highlighted by Jhoan Duran, a 21-year-old pitcher whose fastball has been clocked as high as 102 miles per hour.
Jake Odorizzi made $9.5 million in 2019; what will it take to bring the All-Star pitcher back to the Twins for 2020 and beyond?

Twins have money to spend but a rotation to fill

With possibly four-fifths of the 2019 rotation becoming free agents, the Twins have spots open behind Jose Berrios.
Sam Dyson

Dyson declines minor league assignment from Twins, becomes free agent

Sam Dyson, 31, had right shoulder surgery on Sept. 24 and is expected to miss all of next season, making it all but certain the Twins would not offer him a contract for 2020.
Jake Odorizzi, a pending free agent, pitched in the August rain at Target Field.

Twins' path to 2020 begins now with free-agent negotiations

Teams have started a window in which they can talk to their own players who can become free agents.They can start going after players from other teams next week.
Ryan LaMarre

Twins move LaMarre, two other players off 40-man roster

All three were late season additions as the team won the American League Central Division.
Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, right, will remain in Minnesota alongside Senior Vice President and General Manager Thad Levine

Twins boss Falvey declines to interview for Red Sox job

Boston selected Tampa Bay executive Chaim Bloom to head their baseball operations department. According to multiple sources, the Red Sox had Derek Falvey high on their list of candidates
James Rowson laughed with fans at TwinsFest in January at Target Field.

Twins hitting coach Rowson headed to Miami Marlins

After guiding the Twins to a record 307 home runs this season, Rowson will be a bench coach in Florida and also have the title of "offensive coordinator."
Jake Odorizzi is a free agent coming off his best season in the majors. He said he'd like to return to Minnesota but is a free agent.

Twins management vows to pursue 'impact pitching' for 2020 and beyond

Twins management said it plans to aim high to upgrade its roster, with an extra focus on improving a starting rotation that frayed badly during the second half of this season.
Some moves worked out for Twins manager Rocco Baldelli throughout the ALDS series with the Yankees. Some definitely are up for debate.

Plenty to ponder: Baldelli's playoff moves fall under the microscope

Everything a manager he does is up for scrutiny, especially in the postseason. And there were things about Rocco Baldelli's decisions to dissect after the Twins' season-ending loss.
Home plate umpire Todd Tichernor made a remark to Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop on Saturday.

After two swings and two misses, Twins batters ponder approach for Game 3

The Twins have scored six runs in two games. So what now? "We have a plan," Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. "Hopefully the plan works this time."
Pictured above
Reliever Tyler Duffey reacted after Yankees SS Didi Gregorius, rear, knocked a grand slam in the third inning.

Yankees slam Twins 8-2 to take 2-0 lead; Game 3 Monday at Target Field

Didi Gregorius' third-inning grand slam was the deciding blow as New York rolled to the victory, the Yankees' 12th in a row over the Twins in postseason play.
Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios

Berrios runs up pitch count, and control isn't quite there in Game 1

Entrusted with the responsibility of putting the Twins on the right path during Game 1 of the ALDS vs. the Yankees, the numbers told the story for starter Jose Berrios.
Max Kepler, left, and Marwin Gonzalez clowned around as they shook hands during pregame introductions. Both Twins players were back in the lineup afte

A return to health for Twins' many injured

Luis Arraez, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler and Ehire Adrianza, all walking wounded, were all part of the Twins ALDS roster decisions.
ALDS Game 1 starting pitcher Jose Berrios walked off the field after a brief workout at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Let's get it started: Happy, excited Berrios ready for Yankees in Game 1

Jose Berrios, who will start Game 1 vs. the Yankees tonight, will take the mound for the Twins after a regular season filled with successes, struggles and adjustments.
Mitch Garver was greeted at home plate by Jonathan Schoop after hitting a two-run homer against the Yankees in New York on May 4. The Twins lost two o

Road warriors: Twins are a traveling legion of boom

Forget home-field advantage: The Twins have spent the season walking into opposing teams' stadiums and walking out with victories.
Infielder Ronald Torreyes and catcher Willians Astudillo are among a foursome playing dominoes in the clubhouse before the start of a game against the

Latin beat: Twins clubhouse a rollicking and relaxed place, just how the team wants it

There's talking, arguing, laughing. It's the environment the Twins and manager Rocco Baldelli envisioned having this season, one that has been all the team could have hoped for.
Clockwise from top left: Sergio Romo, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Brusdar Graterol and Zack Littell have helped transform the Twins bullpen.

Midseason makeover: Twins bullpen went trouble spot to team strength

The Twins appear to have hit on right bullpen blend for their postseason push after a first part of the season when changes needed to be made. "They've been dominant," manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Sam Dyson

Twins investigating how they got damaged goods in Dyson

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Twins want to know whether San Francisco was aware that reliever Sam Dyson had a sore shoulder when the Giants traded him.
The Twins' Nelson Cruz acknowledged the cheering crowd as he celebrated his 40th home run of the season, and his 400th career homer, a 412 foot solo s

Cruz belts 400th homer, Sano hits two, bats overcome shaky pitching

Nelson Cruz's blast highlighted an afternoon in which the Twins reduced their magic number for clinching the AL Central title to three despite another round of pitching problems.
Twins rookie LaMonte Wade Jr. is feeling more comfortable in the big leagues, as when he hit a triple Saturday night vs. Kansas City.

Twins Insider: Under-the-radar rookie LaMonte Wade Jr. draws praise as role expands

Injuries have forced him into the lineup this month, and he is producing.
Randy Dobnak earned his first career victory Friday, eight days before he is getting married in Maryland.

Randy Dobnak, fellow rookie pitchers carry Twins to 4-3 victory over Kansas City

The Twins lowered their magic number to five by getting eight innings out of four rookie pitchers.
Byron Buxton in July.

Frustrated Byron Buxton does best to support Twins while recovering from surgery

His left arm is immobilized following an operation on his shoulder that ended his season.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano carried teammate Ronald Torreyes, left, after Torreyes was hit by a pitch in the 12th inning to force in the winning r

Night of big rallies: Twins win in 12 innings on bases-loaded hit (by pitch)

The White Sox came back from a 5-0 deficit to force extra innings, with the Twins rallying to tie in the 11th and winning when Ronald Torreyes capped a three-run rally when he was hit by a pitch in the 12th.
Twins outfielder Max Kepler played both games of the day-night doubleheader in Cleveland on Saturday but has not been in the lineup since because of s

More tests, more sitting out for Twins outfielder Kepler

Max Kepler played both games of the day-night doubleheader in Cleveland on Saturday but has not been in the lineup since.
Marwin Gonzalez, back in the Twins lineup after missing nearly three weeks, was congratulated by Eddie Rosario after he scored on a Nelson Cruz single

Return of Gonzalez plugs holes, adds versatility to Twins

The Twins not only get back a player they can use all over the field, they get one who is batting .263 with 15 home runs and 43 RBI.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios pitched into the eighth inning on Monday before being replaced.

Sharper Berrios pitches into eighth, Twins win shrinks magic number to eight

It was the first time Jose Berrios had pitched more than seven innings since June 28, a key development for the Twins as he attempts to put a disastrous August behind him.
The Twins' Luis Arraez was unable to make a catch off the wall on a double hit by Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon in the top of the sixth innin

Another home loss, another injury, another big series with Cleveland

Kyle Gibson's return from the injured list didn't go well in a 12-6 loss, and the Twins now have a 3 1/2-game lead over Cleveland with 16 games remaining in the regular season.
The Twins' Jorge Polanco reaches back to safely to touch third as Tigers third baseman Dawel Lugo attempts the tag during a recent game.

Polanco misses start after dental work, but makes late-game appearance

Jorge Polanco did not start after undergoing emergency dental surgery on Thursday. He did pinch hit in the eighth inning, and struck out as the potential tying run.
The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman (11) got a high-five from teammate and former Twin Brian Dozier after Zimmerman’s two-run homer in the third inning.

As depth takes a holiday, Twins' lead shrinks to four games with loss

With a half-dozen key players out of the lineup, the Twins went hitless with runners in scoring position and fell behind early in a 6-2 loss to Washington on a dreary night at Target Field.
Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson.

Gibson feeling better, preparing to start Thursday

Thursday will be Kyle Gibson's first start since Aug. 30 in Detroit, when he gave up four runs over five innings on 10 hits.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver celebrated with Max Kepler and Jonathan Schoop after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning.

Garver's two home runs lead Twins to 5-3 victory over Cleveland

Mitch Garver belted home runs in the first and seventh innings as the Twins rallied to beat the Indians 5-3 while returning their lead to 6 1/2 games in the AL Central.
Michael Pineda was able to get 20 games shaved off his suspension for a diuretic, but he still won’t be able to pitch in the big leagues until May 2

Big mistake for Big Mike: Twins' Pineda suspended 60 games

Major League Baseball on Saturday announced that Twins pitcher Michael Pineda has received a 60-day suspension for violating the league's drug policy.
Nelson Cruz.

Cruz feels better, but Twins leave him out of lineup as 'coach's decision'

Nelson Cruz's plan was to take some swings with his sore wrist before Saturday's game, then take his usual spot in the starting lineup. Manager Rocco Baldelli, however, had other ideas
Cleveland's Oscar Mercado slides safely into home to score on a sacrifice fly by Yasiel Puig against the Twins to tie the score during the eighth inni

Backup plan fizzles: Cleveland beats Twins in 11th as Graterol struggles

The Indians scored four, two-out runs to take the victory in the opening game of a weekend series at Target Field.
Max Kepler watched his two-run single to left-center during the eighth inning Monday, lifting the Twins over the Tigers 4-3.

Kepler's big hit, four scoreless relief innings rally Twins past Detroit

It was a laborious Labor Day for Twins hitters for most of the afternoon, as they sputtered with runners in scoring position and appeared on their way to losing to last-place Detroit.
Rookie righthander Randy Dobnak, who has yet to give up an earned run in eight innings with the Twins, will get his first major league start Tuesday a

Twins happy to have an assortment of options in bullpen in September

With rosters expanded up to 40 in September, the Twins now feature a 12-man bullpen. Manager Rocco Baldelli has an arm for any occasion.
Willians Astudillo beat the throw to Tigers catcher Jake Rogers to score from second on a single by teammate Jorge Polanco during the second inning of

Twins win behind Pineda and a bunch of singles

A day after breaking the major league home-run record, lesser hits are plentiful.
Twins reliever Brusdar Graterol threw his first MLB pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Twins' 8-3

Graterol — and his 103.8-mph fastball — arrive with Twins

The Twins' top pitching prospect has a month to prove himself playoff-worthy.
With a fastball that hits 100 miles per hour, righthander Brusdar Graterol is regarded as the Twins’ top pitching prospect. He will be added to the

Top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol joining Twins

Brusdar Graterol, a 21-year-old right-hander, has consistently thrown fastballs timed at 100 miles per hour and is considered one of the top prospects in baseball.
The Twins' Mitch Garver is greeted in the dugout after his solo home run during the first inning

Twins belt six home runs, break record for home runs in a season in loss to Tigers

Nelson Cruz tied the major league record in the eighth inning, and then Mitch Garver hit Joe Jimenez's first pitch of the ninth inning for his second home run of the night, and the Twins' 268th home run of the season.
The Twins' Jorge Polanco reaches back to safely to touch third as Tigers third baseman Dawel Lugo attempts the tag during the fourth inning

Twins clobber Tigers for sixth win in a row, bump A.L. Central lead to 4.5 games

The Twins sent 26 batters to the plate in the first three innings to stage the rout. It marked their sixth consecutive win, tying for their longest streak of the season.
Byron Buxton

Still no timetable for Buxton's return from shoulder injury

General manager Thad Levine said a four-week scenario was presented when Byron Buxton dislocated his left shoulder Aug. 2.
Ehire Adrianza (13) and Eddie Rosario (20) celebrate a two-run RBI single by C.J. Cron during the first inning

Banged-up Twins keep banging home runs in sweep over White Sox

Jose Berrios threw four wild pitches, but made it through six innings as the Twins hit three more home runs and won their fifth consecutive game.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton

Twins hopeful Buxton will be able to get back after extra treatment

Byron Buxton said he knew he didn't feel right when he swung a bat Sunday. The Twins hope taking some extra time to treat his shoulder will allow it to heal enough to play.
Ehire Adrianza and Jonathan Schoop of the Twins celebrate after the three-run home run in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guarantee

Schoop steps up when teammates down, blasts two homers in win over White Sox

Jonathan Schoop's three-run homer in the second inning set off the Twins' offense, and he hit another one in the eighth when the Twins broke open the 8-2 victory.
Tyler Rogers made his MLB debut for San Francisco in the eighth inning on Wednesday night a few minutes after his identical twin brother Taylor picked

Mirror image: Taylor Rogers thrilled to see twin brother make MLB debut

A few minutes after Twins closer Taylor Rogers finished off the Chicago White Sox, he watched his identical twin brother Tyler make his major league debut.
Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda delivers during the first inning Tuesday in Chicago

'Big Mike' outduels Giolito; Twins take tense 3-1 victory over White Sox

Both pitchers were effective in the series opener, but Michael Pineda was a little bit better, striking out eight White Sox and giving up only four hits in five innings.
Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios

Berrios apologizes after failing to meet with media following rough start

Less than 24 hours after quickly departing Target Field, Jose Berrios apologized to reporters before Saturday's game and was set to resume efforts to rediscover the form that made him an All-Star.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano celebrated with designated hitter Nelson Cruz after Sano's three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning

Home runs cover up Twins mistakes in 8-5 victory over Detroit

Miguel Sano, Jake Cave and the Twins offense stepped up after poor defense reared its head early.
Ronny Rodriguez celebrated his sixth-inning grand slam with teammates including Miguel Cabrera, right.

Berrios serves up grand slam in Twins loss to last-place Tigers

Ronny Rodriguez hit his first career grand slam, the spark plug of a 9-6 victory in the opening game of a weekend series.
Jonathan Schoop

Schoop deals with lack of at-bats for Twins

Finding a lineup spot for Jonathan Schoop has grown complicated. He has started only six of 21 games this month as the Twins give more at-bats to rookie Louis Arraez, batting .341.
Minnesota Twins center fielder Max Kepler homered off Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez in the third inning that also scored Mitch Gar

Twins crush White Sox 14-4 with late-game offensive explosion

The Twins broke a 3-3 tie with four runs in the fifth inning and added seven more runs in the eighth to take a three-game lead in the AL Central.
Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and the crowd applauded Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) after he scored on a Eddie Rosario s

What bad wrist? Cruz comes back swinging from injury

In his first start on Monday, Nelson Cruz went 2-for-5 with an RBI and Tuesday night he was 4-for-5, with a solo homer, three doubles and three RBI.
Minnesota Twins' Jorge Polanco rounds third base en route to scoring against the Chicago White Sox on a single by Nelson Cruz in the first inning of a

Sweet spot in Twins schedule gets off to sour start

Monday was the start of the sweet spot of the Twins schedule, with 26 of their final 38 games against the bottom three teams in the AL Central
The Twins open next season on March 26 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which will likely be more comfortable than Target Field.

Twins Insider: Request to open 2020 season in warmer weather is granted

First seven games vs. Athletics and Mariners aim to counter early-season weather.
Twins lefthander Taylor Rogers was asked to pitch the 10th inning Sunday, but he was pulled after giving up a grand slam to Cleveland star Carlos Sant

When a closer fails: Rogers pummeled pitching consecutive days

Taylor Rogers has made a name for himself by stepping into the Twins' closer role. But his work has suffered dramatically when he's been asked to work on consecutive days.
All-Star Cody Bellinger and the Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to play at Target Field during the 2020 season. The Twins also will play a series in

Twins open 2020 season in Oakland; Giants, Dodgers, Rockies at Target Field

Opening Day is March 26, and the home opener is April 2, both against Oakland. The Twins will face teams from the NL West in interleague play.
Martin Perez's most recent start was another poor effort, when he got rocked Wednesday against the Braves.

Big start coming up Tuesday for Twins' slumping Martin Perez

The lefthander will get the ball again as scheduled at Milwaukee, but Michael Pineda's return might force a change to the rotation after that.
Cleveland catcher Kevin Plawecki tagged out Twins pinch runner Ehire Adrianza as he tried to score on a double by Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning

Thrown out and slammed: Cleveland beats Twins in 10 innings

After the Twins made an unsuccessful attempt to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Santana's grand slam in the 10th pulled Cleveland back into a tie for first place in the AL Central.
Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez reacted after hitting a single in the fifth inning.

Twins' division lead is gone as Cleveland pulls even with 6-2 victory

The Twins hit their 226th home run of the season, but the Indians looked like a first-place team on Friday in a 6-2 win over the Twins. And that's because they are. The AL Central is now tied.
The Twins' Nelson Cruz was placed on the 10-day IL on Friday but he hopes it's a quick recovery.

Morneau's history with Twins gives Cruz hope for quick recovery

Former Twins slugger Justin Morneau said he recovered quickly after rupturing a tendon in his wrist, the same injury that landed Nelson Cruz on the IL on Friday.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson grimaced while waiting to be taken out of the game after walking Cleveland's Yasiel Puig to load the base

More poor pitching sinks Twins as Cleveland closes within one game; Cruz hurt

Kyle Gibson was wild and ineffective, throwing more balls than strikes, as Cleveland jumped to an early lead and held off a late Twins rally to set up a chance to move into a tie for the AL Central lead tonight.
Teammates welcomed Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano (22) home after his game-winning homer.

Sano-storm: Mammoth walk-off home run boosts Twins to win

Miguel Sano's 443-foot blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to center field provided the Twins with their third walk-off victory of the season, and increased their lead in the AL Central.
New Twins reliever Sam Dyson’s shoulder problems trace back to a July 15-17 series at Colorado.

New Twins reliever Dyson's shoulder hurt back in mid-July

He was pitching well despite the discomfort and apparently didn't tell the Giants about his condition.
In two relief appearances since the Twins acquired him from the Giants, Sam Dyson has given up six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning for an 81.00

Twins place Dyson, after two shaky appearances, on 10-day injured list

In two relief appearances since the Twins acquired him from the Giants, Sam Dyson has given up six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning for an 81.00 ERA.
Devin Smeltzer gave up two hits in six innings against the Royals on Sunday.

Pushing the veterans: Smeltzer to get more work as Twins sweep Royals

Promoted Sunday from Class AAA Rochester, lefty Devin Smeltzer tossed six strong innings as the Twins beat Kansas City 3-0. "He's going to help us win games," manager Rocco Baldelli said.