Staff Directory 10645506

La Velle E. Neal III

Reporter | Minnesota Twins
phone: 612.674.4888
La Velle E. Neal III has covered Major League Baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and Dan Barreiro during the season.
Recent content from La Velle E. Neal III
Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson took to the mound during the first inning Wednesday.

Gibson goes six innings, but done in by one swing

Detroit's Niko Goodrum blasted a two-run home run that was the deciding factor in Wednesday's game, a blemish on an otherwise fine afternoon for Twins starter Kyle Gibson
Twins outfielders Jake Cave, left, Byron Buxton, center, and Max Kepler chat during a pitching change during the top of the eighth inning

Help on the way: Twins bats go silent as Sano readies for return

The Twins on Wednesday finished a nine-game homestand 4-5 after a 4-1 loss to the Tigers, a result manager Paul Molitor called "disappointing." But the team could get Miguel Sano back as early as Friday.
Twins pitcher Lance Lynn throws against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday at Target Field.

Solid Lynn beats up on Tigers (and then himself) in 6-0 Twins victory

Twins starter Lance Lynn on Tuesday wasn't happy with his ending but pitched 6⅔ of a 6-0 win thanks to a pair of doubles each from Ehire Adrianza and Brian Dozier.
Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor

Twins' roster might remain in flux for a few days

Expect the Twins, who currently have 12 pitchers and 13 position players on the roster, to light up the transaction wire between the end of Wednesday's series finale against Detroit and Friday's game at Seattle.
Ron Gardenhire

Gardenhire returning Monday to Target Field with his surpising Tigers

Baseball Insider: Detroit, coming off a terrible season, is rebuilding with more of a carefree attitude under Ron Gardenhire.
Miguel Sano tossed his bat after striking out in April.

Twins to take it slow with Sano's rehab assignment

"It's a tentative schedule, depending on how he copes and how the body responds," manager Paul Molitor said.
Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller has hit a bit of a rough patch over his last few appearances.

AL Central intelligence: Division defined by struggles, injuries and no whistling

The Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III takes a look around the American League Central.
Milwaukee Brewers' Jesus Aguilar, right, rounds the bases on a solo home run as Minnesota Twins' second baseman Brian Dozier watches in the seventh in

Friday's Twins-Milwaukee game recap

On Friday the Twins lost to the Brewers 8-3 in Game 1 of the Border Battle at Target Field.
Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson, right, headed to the dugout Friday after he was pulled in the sixth inning. He struck out five, but gave up five earned run

Gibson knocked around, offense struggles in Border Battle Game 1

Righthander Kyle Gibson was hit early and too often, and Twins hitters were befuddled by lefthander Brent Suter's craftiness as they lost to Milwaukee 8-3.
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer

Mauer leaves Friday's game after aggravating neck injury

Mauer had suffered a slight injury to the left side of his neck while chasing after then diving for a foul ball during last weekend's series in Anaheim.
Fans clap as Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, leaves the field during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Mi

Twins impressed with Ohtani while Romero finally yields a run

The Twins saw Sunday in their 2-1 loss to the Angels that Shohei Ohtani — the pitcher — is the real deal.
The Twins' Ehire Adrianza was tagged out by Angels catcher Martin Maldonado trying to score on a double by Robbie Grossman in the ninth inning Sunday.

Twins lose to Angels in ninth, but happy with 'heck of a road trip'

A baserunning blunder in the top of the ninth contributed to the Twins' sixth walk-off loss of the season. But players were looking at the big picture and happy with their overall improved play.
Mitch Garver watches his RBI-double against the Angels during the 12th inning Saturday.

Garver delivers late again as Twins topple Angels in 12 innings

After hitting a tying double to right on Friday to cap a comeback victory, Mitch Garver's RBI double in the 12th inning drove in Eddie Rosario with the winning run in a 5-3 victory.
Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler celebrates in the dugout after his home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the sixth inning of a baseball game in A

Twins give bruised and battered Kepler the night off

Max Kepler was hit by a pitch in the hand on Thursday night and was out of the lineup Friday, although he was called upon in the ninth inning.
Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario, right, gets congratulations from Robbie Grossman after Rosario hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels d

Twins score three in the ninth to beat Angels 5-4

The Twins' Friday-night rally, sparked by Eddie Rosario's second home run of the game, overcame Lance Lynn's struggles on the mound.
Byron Buxton at Target Field in April.

Byron Buxton activated from disabled list by Twins

Byron Buxton is batting only .186, but his return to the Twins lineup on Thursday night was met with open arms.
Wander Javier

Top Twins prospect Wander Javier out for the season

The 19-year-old shortstop will have shoulder surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.
Ichiro Suzuki

Twins watched in admiration as Ichiro did it his way

Paul Molitor was a hitting coach for one of the most unorthodox players in baseball history.
Eddie Rosario, right, displayed his talents all over Target Field during the recent homestand.

Rosario on a tear, showing power to all fields

Eddie Rosario went 5-for-12 in the series with Toronto, belting two home runs, a double and four RBI.
Toronto's Luke Maile stole third base in the 10th inning at Target Field on Tuesday

Extra-painful defeat: Blue Jays score three in 10th inning to top Twins

The Twins and Blue Jays took turns claiming and giving up the lead before Toronto pounced on the Twins in extra innings Tuesday. Minnesota has now lost 11 of 12 games.
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi throws against the Reds in the first inning Saturday

Odorizzi's strong outing helps Twins beat Reds, end 8-game skid

Jake Odorizzi limited the Reds to one run in six innings of work, and Mitch Garver's home run supplied the offense.
Twins pitcher Fernando Rodney

Rodney has a reason for not using his changeup early on in season

Fernando Rodney has thrown his changeup an average of 35.4 percent in his career. But this year, he has thrown it only 18.6 percent of the time.
Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer, right, beats the tag by Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart to score on a double by Max Kepler in the fourth inning of

'This one hurts': Everything ails Twins - even the Reds

The Twins returned home hoping to end a seven-game losing skid but instead lost 15-9 in a game they led 8-4.
The Rays' Carlos Gomez, center, celebrated with teammates after hitting a two-run walkoff homer off Twins reliever Addison Reed in the ninth inning Su

Bullpen blow-up: Twins swept by Rays on Gomez' walk-off homer

What the past few days have reinforced is that no Twins reliever is immune from grooving a fat pitch. Or blowing a save. Or being walked off against.
Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston, left, and catcher Jason Castro talked with starter Phil Hughes, center, on the mound during the first inning Sunda

Hughes' return to mound for Twins doesn't go as he hoped

Returning to action for the first time since having surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, Hughes lasted only 3 ⅓ innings Sunday in his first start in 11 months.
Tampa Bay Rays' Denard Span, center, congratulates C.J. Cron, right, after scoring on Cron's two-run home run off Minnesota Twins reliever Gabriel Moy

Twins relievers melt down at end of 10-1 loss to Rays

The Rays broke open the game with five runs in the seventh inning.
Rays outfielder Denard Span hit a two-run single off Twins reliever Gabriel Moya during the seventh inning Saturday night. Span later added an RBI sin

Ex-Twin Span finds right role with hometown Rays

Denard Span, drafted 20th overall in 2002 by the Twins, was expected to be one of the veteran influences on the Rays, and leads the club with 17 RBI from the leadoff spot.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios, right, and third baseman Miguel Sano celebrate the team's 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in 16 inni

Berrios right at home before LaMarre's 16th-inning game-winner

Jose Berrios, who grew up near San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium, pitched seven dominant innings and led the celebration as Ryan LaMarre's bases-loaded single gave the Twins a 2-1 victory.
Cleveland's Francisco Lindor hits a home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan

Homecoming homer: Lindor's blast sparks Cleveland over Twins

Francisco Lindor crushed a hanging 3-and-2 curveball from Jake Odorizzi over the right field wall, the first of four Cleveland homers on an emotional night in San Juan.
Hiram Bithorn Stadium will host the two-game series that starts Tuesday.

In Puerto Rico, baseball is an outlet amid hurricane's aftermath

Puerto Rico is full of passionate baseball fans. As the island gets back on its feet following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, the game has been its crutch.
School teachers Norma Torres, right, and Evelyn Hernandez, greet Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, how visited his former grammar

Twins-Cleveland series preview

These will be the Twins' first games since Thursday when they defeated the White Sox; three weekend games were snowed out.
The Twins' Joe Mauer collects his 2,000th career hit with a two-run single in the seventh inning

Mauer reaches 2,000-hit milestone in Twins shutout

Joe Mauer collected his 2,000th career hit Thursday in a 4-0 win over the White Sox, a game Jose Berrios took over with 11 strikeouts.
A statue of TC Bear, the Minnesota Twins mascot, is coated in fresh snow on April 3. Another bout of heavy snow is expected this weekend.

Twins brace for another blast of winter

Winter continues to ignore the calendar, and that will be quite evident at Target Field this weekend when the Twins are to finish a series with the White Sox but might be forced to scramble the schedule.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana

Twins pitcher Santana gets doctors' OK to begin throwing

Ervin Santana, who had surgery to remove a calcium deposit from his middle finger on Feb., 6, has not bounced back as fast as he or the Twins had hoped.
Joe Mauer has 1,994 career hits.

Mauer prepares to add another keepsake to his collection

Sometime this week, Joe Mauer should become the 10th current major-leaguer to reach the 2,000-hit mark, and one of three players to get that many with the Twins.
Twins catcher Jason Castro struck out with bases loaded in the seventh inning.

Slow go continues for Morrison as Twins fall 11-4 to Seattle

It was 27 degrees at first pitch, and the Twins never got to heat up for a comeback falling to the Mariners. Logan Morrison's struggles to start the season are now at 1-for-19.
Twins pitcher Jose Berrios pitched 4 2/3 innings against Seattle.

Berrios' strong start for Twins falls apart in middle innings

Jose Berrios tore through the Seattle batting order the first time through, retiring all nine batters he faced with ease, including four strikeouts.
Brian Dozier greeted Mitch Garver after Garver’s first major league home run gave the Twins a lead on Thursday.

Twins starting the season with a power surge

Brian Dozier already has four home runs, and the team is averaging two per game.
Fernando Rodney became the oldest Twins pitcher to record a save when he retired the Mariners in the ninth inning. He faced four batters, striking out

Twins' starter Santana headed to New York for a checkup

Twins righthander Ervin Santana is expected to head to New York sometime next week for a checkup on his surgically repaired middle finger, and also get cleared to start some sort of throwing program.
The strong Houston Astros, with pitchers Justin Verlander, left, Gerrit Cole, center, and Dallas Keuchel only got stronger.

MLB Insider: La Velle E. Neal III makes his predictions for '18 season

Snow or shine, the new season is here. And that means it's time for a prediction column.
When the Twins open the 2018 season in Baltimore on Thursday, Eduardo Escobar will be the starting shortstop after Jorge Polanco drew an 80-game suspe

Always in position, Escobar is there when Twins need him

On Thursday, when the Twins open the 2018 season in Baltimore, Eduardo Escobar will be the starting shortstop after Jorge Polanco drew an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Jake Odorizzi

Just another start? Odorizzi calm about Opening Day honor

Picked up in a spring training trade from Tampa Bay, Jake Odorizzi comes across as a guy who doesn't allow his pulse to quicken.
As spring training wraps up, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said players have been focused on the little details that were a key to last year’s p

Twins leave spring training confident, but decisions are lingering

Sunday was a little strange in that the Twins packed up to leave Florida, but there was still work to do before Thursday's opener in Baltimore.
The Twins' Eddie Rosario, who missed about two weeks of games because of a strained triceps, has returned to playing in the outfield but is not throwi

Twins leave Florida with concerns about Rosario

Eddie Rosario's arm still has totally recovered by a spring training injury and he's leaving from with a .188 spring training batting average.
The Cleveland Indians mob teammate Yan Gomes, who drove in the winning run in the 13th inning against the New York Yankees during Game 2 of the Americ

Division preview: Cleveland is current king of the AL Central

Did the Twins do enough to catch the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division?
Eddie Rosario

Development of young hitters is key to Twins offense

The Twins offense was unspectacular for two-thirds of the season but surged during the final third. Can the improvement continue?
Nick Gordon

Call 9-1-1? Twins added depth in minors to better avoid emergencies

The Twins will feel much better about reaching down to the minor leagues for help this season.
Twins pitcher Jose Berrios (shown pitching against the Red Sox last month) threw five innings in a 3-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday. He likel

Berrios pitches Twins past Pirates; likely to start game in Puerto Rico in front of family, friends

"It would mean a lot," the righthander said. "… I'm so excited to be available to pitch there."
Kyle Gibson delivers a pitch against Philadelphia during a spring training game earlier this month.

Gibson finds a rhythm in tuneup for regular season

Since the Twins were off Tuesday, Kyle Gibson went to the minor league side to stay on schedule and threw six scoreless innings for Class AAA Rochester.
Tyler Kinley worked out at spring training, with bullpen coach Eddie Guardado in the background.

Rule 5 pick Tyler Kinley makes bid to stick with Twins

A distant relative of a former president, the righthanded reliever has impressed the team during spring training.
Jorge Polanco has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The commissioner's office announced the penalt

Polanco suspended 80 games and postseason for drug policy violation

Twins starting shortstop Jorge Polanco tested positive for stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance that also led to the suspension of Twins pitcher Ervin Santana in 2015.
Twins pitcher Trevor Hildenberger.

Clean outing for Hildenberger an encouraging sign

The reliever threw a scoreless inning against Philadelphia.
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton.

Buxton propels Twins past Phillies

His bat and base-running shine in victory.
Shortstop Royce Lewis, 18, is ranked as the top overall prospect in the Twins organization by

Twins have no shortage of shortstops in their system

The Twins have a track record of drafting and signing shortstops, many of whom end up at another position when they reach the majors.
Righthander Phil Hughes gave up one run over four innings in the Twins’ 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Monday.

Hughes beats Yankees as he battles for spot in Twins' rotation

Phil Hughes gave up one run over four innings in the Twins' 2-1 victory.
Minnesota Twins' Eduardo Escobar

Twins jump on Red Sox early in 8-1 win; Escobar belts home run

Seven Twins batted in the first inning, scoring four runs to knock out Boston righthander Chandler Shepherd.

Twins at camp: Relievers seem to like possibility of riding cart into games

Twins relievers Tyler Duffey, Ryan Pressly and Trevor Hildenberger on Wednesday engaged in cart-related banter, joined at times by Zach Duke and Addison Reed.
In a span of three years, after Twins pitcher Aaron Slegers shot up from 6-2 to 6-10, injuries allowed him to pitch only 10⅓ innings.

Twins pitcher Slegers, at 6-10, is showing growth potential

Aaron Slegers went through a dramatic growth spurt - seven inches between junior and senior year of high school - that hindered his progress in baseball. But he's become something of a late bloomer.
Joe Mauer might split more time between first base and designated hitter with the arrival of Logan Morrison.

Biggest winner from Morrison joining Twins? Could it be Mauer?

Logan Morrison's arrival means Joe Mauer could spend more time as the Twins' designated hitter in 2018, with the result being fewer days off for the veteran.

Jose Berrios' second spring start for Twins sharper than first

He gave up three hits and pitched into the third inning against the Pirates.
Major League Baseball has tracked Byron Buxton’s sprint speed measurement at 30.2 feet per second, making the 24-year-old Twins center fielder the f

Size and speed: Buxton tries to become a thief of the highest order

Twins center fielder Byron Buxton spent the offseason working to merge superior speed with improved technique. He wants to pack on a few pounds, too.
Miguel Sano

Sano interviewed by MLB investigators in assault inquiry

Miguel Sano missed the Twins' workouts Tuesday after his representatives informed the team of his appointment with MLB's security departments
Justin Morneau joked behind the batting cage with fellow Twins special assistant Torii Hunter, two stars from the Twins’ teams of the 2000s.

Morneau settles into role as newest Twins' alumni 'coach'

Justin Morneau is joining Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer as special assistants, which includes returning to the field at spring training.
Eddie Rosario made his way to left field during the Twins’ 4-3 loss to Boston on Friday to open Grapefruit League play at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers

What to keep an eye on as spring games begin for Twins

Now that the games have started in Florida, Paul Molitor and the Twins coaching staff will look to keep the team in line while monitoring several position battles and other issues.
Just-traded Jake Odorizzi got right to work endearing himself to Twins fans, signing a bat for Terry Finley of Finland, Minn.

Odorizzi joins Twins while drawing high praise

Chris Archer, now Jake Odorizzi's former Rays teammate, promises that the Twins are getting more than a midrotation stabilizer.
Jake Odorizzi was 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 143 innings last year with the Rays, and the 27-year-old is 40-38 with a 3.83 ERA in his

Odorizzi fills a need for Twins, just not biggest one

The Twins didn't get the ace they want but got a solid rotation piece.
Anibal Sanchez pitched with the Detroit Tigers last season.

Twins willing to give veteran Sanchez a low-risk look

Anibal Sanchez is 28-35 with a 5.15 ERA over his past four seasons. He has been demoted to the bullpen, then to the minors. At age 34, he might not have much left to offer as a pitcher.
Twins veteran pitcher Phil Hughes said he was against MLB’s idea to limit mound visits from catchers.

MLB's pace of play proposals rile Twins

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is prepared to announce pace-of-play changes in time for spring training games that begin next Friday — with or without union support.
Anibal Sanchez pitched for the Tigers in 2017.

Twins sign veteran pitcher Sanchez for spring training tryout

Anibal Sanchez, 33, pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins in 2006. Last season for the Tigers he was 3-7 with a 6.41 ERA for Detroit last season.
Twins pitcher Michale Kohn stretched with teammates on the first day of workouts in Fort Myers

Introductions in order on Day 1 of Twins camp

The first spring training workout of pitchers and catchers often is spent trying to figure out what new players are in camp. This year for the Twins, the turnover among the major and minor league coaching staffs is obvious.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano

Levine: Sano will report on time, cleared for baseball activities

Miguel Sano will report to Twins training camp Sunday with the rest of the position players while still being investigated by MLB for an alleged assault of a freelance photographer.
New Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston signed an autograph during TwinsFest at Target Field in January.

New Twins pitching coach looking for whatever works best

Garvin Alston plans to help each of the pitchers realize what works for them, then use that knowledge to try to shut down hitters.
One pitcher the Twins have targeted is Rays righthander Chris Archer, and the club made a trade offer as recently as two weeks ago, a source confirmed

Rays' Archer in Twins' sights as spring training nears

After failing to land Yu Darvish, who ended up signing with the Cubs, the Twins are looking at several other free-agent pitchers, as well as exploring trades with multiple teams.
Kyle Gibson

Position by position look at the 2018 Twins

What everyone will be watching when the Twins kick off spring training this week in Florida.
Glen Perkins

Perkins, Levine discuss front office role with Twins

The Twins already have Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins and Justin Morneau as special assistants to baseball operations, but they will discuss adding recently retired Glen Perkins.
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