Staff Directory 102061883

Phil Miller

Reporter | Minnesota Twins and MLB
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Phil Miller has covered the Twins for the Star Tribune since 2013. Previously, he covered the University of Minnesota football team, and from 2007-09, he covered the Twins for the Pioneer Press.


A native of Pekin, Ill., Miller attended the University of Utah, and worked for 26 years at The Salt Lake Tribune, spending five years as assistant sports editor, and later as a reporter covering communities, college football and basketball, and the NBA's Utah Jazz.
Recent content from Phil Miller
Zack Littell (52) threw in the bullpen during a spring training workout on Feb. 16.

Littell tries something new to cruise into Twins bullpen spot

On land or at sea, 24-year-old righthander Zack Littell has prepared to make the Twins out of spring training.after altering his unusual offseason routine.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver and starter Jose Berrios compared notes at the end of the second inning against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Six batters, four strikeouts: Berrios sharp in first exhibition appearance

For a guy determined to throttle down a bit in the spring in order to feel more rested in the fall, Jose Berrios looks like he was already in midseason form.
Twins prospect Royce Lewis demonstrates his pre-swing leg kick.

Power generation: Some (but not all) Twins find leg kicks beneficial to swings

It's not for everyone, but a pre-swing leg kick has helped some Twins players generate immense power at the plate.
New Twins catcher Alex Avila, left, joked with Twins legend Tony Oliva during a recent spring training practice.

Alex Avila and the new Twins catcher's big catch

It once took Alex Avila and friends 3 1/2 hours to bring in a 586-pound swordfish. As great a thrill as that was, the new Twins catcher would rather win a baseball game.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli greets Twins' full roster with 1 goal, 2 magic words: World Series

Rocco Baldelli said he didn't want to leave any doubt about how far he thinks the Twins, only four years removed from a 103-loss season, can go.
Josh Donaldson, at 34, said he thinks he has plenty of good offensive years left.

Healthy Donaldson confident his best years aren't in the past

The Twins, who agreed last month to pay 34-year-old Josh Donaldson $92 million for the next four years, are banking he has more elite seasons in his future.
Twins pitcher Tyler Clippard

Tenth time a charm? Clippard's latest stop brings him to Twins

Tyler Clippard has been traded six times and become a free agent four, each time switching teams. And next month, he will become the 44th player in baseball history to play for 10 major league teams.
New Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda had his first workout at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday.

Number of aces: Maeda follows Japanese tradition by getting No. 18

The Twins are following a baseball tradition (and a clause in their new pitcher's contract) with Mitch Garver giving up his No. 18 to newly acquired Kenta Maeda.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli says he welcomes challenge of improving on 101-win season

Rocco Baldelli will supervise the Twins' first workout of the spring Wednesday, opening his second season as a big-league manager with one burden that instantly raises the degree-of-difficulty: expectations.
Brusdar Graterol's future is still in limbo in the aftermath of the three-way deal involving the Twins, Boston and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Twins or Red Sox? Graterol remains in limbo as blockbuster trade not official

Brusdar Graterol was in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday getting ready for spring training. The question is, which team will he report to next week?
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda has a contract, which the Twins could inherit, that pays him more when he makes starts.

Innings equal dollars: Maeda contract tied to workload

Wherever he winds up for 2020, thanks to his contract Kenta Maeda will want to pitch — and pitch a lot.
Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol

Graterol's medical records cast doubt on blockbuster trade

The Twins' piece of the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade has reportedly stalled the rest of the deal, plunging the Twins' acquisition of Dodgers righthander Kenta Maeda into doubt.
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda throws a pitch to during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series vs. Washington last season.

Graterol to Boston, Maeda to Twins in blockbuster deal sending Mookie Betts to L.A.

The Twins were the third team in the deal that also sends 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.
After a strong 2019 season with the Twins that included an All-Star selection, Jake Odorizzi’s offseason has included bringing 1-year-old son Maddex

For Odorizzi, it's full speed ahead thanks to more zip on pitches

With improved velocity on his pitches and a one-year contract for 2020, Jake Odorizzi is looking forward to a prove-it season with the Twins.
Jhoulys Chacin has pitched for seven major league teams in 11 seasons.

Nine former big leaguers get non-roster invitations to Twins camp

Jhoulys Chacin heads the list of 20 players who got minor league contracts and are headed to Fort Myers.
Jhoulys Chacin's rough 2019 ended with Boston, where the veteran righthander went 0-2 with 1 7.35 ERA in six games.

Veteran starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to sign with Twins

In 2018 he led the National League with 35 starts, when he was 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 192 innings. In 2019, he was awful.
Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol signed autographs during TwinsFest 2020 on Friday at Target Field.

Twins make their call: Graterol's 100 mph fastball will come out of bullpen

Brusdar Graterol's world-class velocity has made him the Twins' top pitching prospect for the past couple of years. The Twins have decided how to use him, for now.
Now with the Twins, former AL MVP Josh Donaldson adds punch to the lineup of the reigning American League Central champions.

Donaldson adds knockout punch to most homegrown lineup in years

All nine players projected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup had an on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) number above the American League average in 2019.
At Target Field in 2014, Josh Donaldson, then with Oakland, joked with Derek Jeter, whose Hall of Fame election was announced Tuesday.

Roster, payroll, jersey number: What does Donaldson signing mean to Twins?

The potential effects of adding three-time All-Star and former MVP Josh Donaldson to the Twins are almost too numerous to track. Here's a look.
Thad Levine greeted third baseman Miguel Sano during last year's spring training.

More moves coming? Levine hints Twins looking at trade market

Twins general manager Thad Levine said the Twins haven't given up on supplementing the starting rotation, and that the team is looking to "stimulate some more conversations" on the trade market.
Twins manger Rocco Baldelli autographed a baseball for Reed Marquardt in downtown Minneapolis on Monday.

You worried about Twins starting pitching? Rocco Baldelli isn't

No mere pitching shortage can dent the laid-back serenity of the Twins' manager. Especially since Baldelli doesn't believe that one really exists.
Josh Donaldson

Twins' invitation to Donaldson finally got a response: It's a deal

The Twins' front office certainly did its part to sway Josh Donaldson to Target Field but a sales pitch video from Miguel Sano and some prodding from noted fan Mardy Fish helped, too.
Center fielder Byron Buxton missed significant playing time last season because of injuries.

Buxton among players to miss TwinsFest - but he's on track for spring

Byron Buxton, who underwent surgery Sept. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, is in Florida and has been cleared for hitting off a tee and other basic drills.
Josh Donaldson

Offseason home run: Donaldson agrees to $92 million deal with Twins

Former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson accepted the largest free-agent contract the Twins have ever agreed to, and should add big pop to a lineup that set the major league home run record last season.
Miguel Sano’s three-year contract includes a $14 million option on a fourth season.

Sano happy with three-year contract, willing to play wherever needed

Miguel Sano doesn't care whether he plays third base, first base or the outfield ... he's just happy to get a long-term contract from the Twins.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano agreed to a three-year contract that takes him at least through the 2022 season.

Sano agrees to three-year, $30M contract with Twins

Five other Twins players avoided arbitration with one-year deals, but Jose Berrios is the lone exception.
Josh Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played last season for Atlanta.

Twins likely out of the bidding for former AL MVP Donaldson

Free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson is seeking a four-year deal for more than $100 million, and the Twins appear to be out.
C.J. Cron hit 25 home runs in his first season with the Twins.

Who's on first next? Twins part ways with Cron, reliever Hildenberger

C.J. Cron and Trevor Hildenberger are free to sign with any team, including the Twins, but both figure to move on — in Cron's case, to his fourth team in four seasons.
Wisconsin cornerback Caesar Williams (21) and linebacker Chris Orr (54) celebrated after Williams broke up a pass intended for Gophers wide receiver T

'Row! Row! Row!' Wisconsin players pantomime rowing with Axe

The Badgers were unapologetic for their cheeky midfield celebration.
Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor scored a touchdown in the second quarter on a pass play with Gophers linebacker Carter Coughlin covering him.

Badgers players felt comfortable playing in the snow

Some of the Badgers had been preparing for Saturday's snow globe since grade school.
P.J. Fleck’s “Axe-on-Tour” trips in Minnesota after winning last year aggravated some Badgers.

Badgers have Axe to grind with Gophers in 129th meeting

The Gophers-Wisconsin football rivalry - 13 decades and 128 meetings - hits new heights Saturday and the Badgers want the trophy back.
Jonathan Taylor (23) might be the best in a long line of outstanding Wisconsin running backs. The Gophers face Taylor and the Badgers at TCF Bank Stad

Taylor might be the best of all the great Badgers running backs

The Gophers defense will have its hands full Saturday in trying to bring down Jonathan Taylor.
Jake Odorizzi is coming off his best major league season, winning 15 games for the Twins in 2019.

Should Jake Odorizzi second-guess returning to Twins?

Was it a strange decision, or is he making the best of a bad situation?
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi says he's 'betting on myself' in accepting Twins' qualifying offer

The righthander said he didn't want to find himself stuck without a team as spring training approached.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz led his team onto the field for last week’s 24-22 loss at Wisconsin.

Undefeated Gophers an underdog despite Iowa's three losses. Why?

Among other things, Iowa has allowed only 105 points in nine games, fewer than any Division I team except Ohio State and Georgia.
Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi's choice to stay with Twins allows both sides to look ahead

There were reasons for Jake Odorizzi to wait until after next season to test the free-agent market, which could also help the Twins front office in shaping the pitching staff for 2020.
Thad Levine (left) and Derek Falvey have agreed to new deals intended to keep them with the Twins through 2024.

Twins give 'Falvine' duo contract extensions, one gets a new title

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the architects of the Twins' American League Central champions, have agreed to contract extensions to remain in charge of the team's baseball operations.
Rocco Baldelli talked with Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, right, during the Twins’ playoff series against the Yankees.

Baldelli beats out Yankees' Boone for Manager of the Year in tight vote

Rocco Baldelli was honored Tuesday with the American League Manager of the Year Award, becoming the fourth Twins manager and third in the past decade to win the trophy.
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan released the ball quickly — he was sacked once — and usually found his target vs. Penn State. He also ran four t

Morgan nearly perfect at quarterback in Gophers' biggest win so far

Gophers QB Tanner Morgan threw for three TDs and 339 yards.
Since coach James Franklin and Penn State pulled out a 29-26 overtime victory over the Gophers in 2016, the Nittany Lions have gone 37-7 and returned

After 2016 victory over Gophers, 'the brand is back' at Penn State

The Gophers sense a pivotal moment in their football program's history coming on Saturday. In other words, they're hoping this weekend's game does for them what their last meeting did for Penn State.
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi

Twins make offer to Odorizzi, buy out Perez as free-agent decisions begin

Pitcher Jake Odorizzi is expected to decline the $17.8 million qualifying offer in favor of seeking a long-term deal. The Twins didn't make offers to five others, including Kyle Gibson.
Nelson Cruz played around with teammates Eddie Rosario (left) and Willians Astudillo during a Twins workout Sunday at Target Field.

Cruz will return. Here's why he'll take pay cut after 40-homer year

Nelson Cruz, the veteran designated hitter, set a franchise record for slugging percentage in a big offensive season.
Twins first baseman C.J. Cron pointed to third baseman Miguel Sano after he fielded a grounder by Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton in Game 1 of

Kepler to rest injured back; Cron might need thumb surgery

While Max Kepler should be OK next spring without any further treatment on his nagging back, the Twins fear the same might not be the case for first baseman C.J. Cron.
Twins players, including injured center fielder Byron Buxton (middle), wore some grim faces during the ninth inning of an ALDS Game 3 loss to the Yank

1-2-3 and they're out: Twins lament quick end to team's fine season

The players were packing up Tuesday and coming to terms with a disappointing ending to a memorable season.
Eddie Rosario later hit a home run to get the Twins close, but he remained on his knees after being thrown out at first base in the fifth inning of th

Swept again: Twins' playoff losing streak hits 16 games, 16 Octobers

The highest-scoring team in Twins history went weakly into the winter with 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday, extending a baseball-record streak of postseason defeats that dates to 2004.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz took the floor in the clubhouse in Yankee Stadium after Saturday’s ugly Game 2 loss.

Cruz tried to inspire Twins with clubhouse speech after Game 2

"When a guy like that speaks, everybody listens and perks their ears up and takes it in, because he's been in a lot of different situations," pitcher Kyle Gibson said.
Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi talks to reporters during a news conference during the ALDS.

Twins need a hero: Odorizzi primed for a win-or-else challenge

In what could be his final start for the Twins, his team is asking nothing less from Jake Odorizzi than this: Save our season tonight against the Yankees at Target Field.
Eddie Rosario played right field, not his usual spot in left, at Yankee Stadium this weekend. “It’s no big deal,” he said.

Misstep in June eventually led to Rosario playing right field

Eddie Rosario started each of the first two games in the American League Division Series standing in front of the short porch in Yankee Stadium.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Cody Stashak gave up two home runs in the sixth inning, including one to New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner.

Twins turn in 'bad game at the wrong time' in Game 1 in N.Y.

Friday's 10-4 loss was the Twins' 14th consecutive postseason defeat, setting a major league record for October futility, and their 11th in a row to the Yankees.
Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres celebrated after they scored, along with Cameron Maybin

Yankees turn eight walks into five runs in beating Twins

The Twins were relatively happy about how they swung the bats Friday in the opening game of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were ecstatic about the way they didn't.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli answered questions during a news conference at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon ahead of Friday's ALDS Game 1

Baldelli's way: New generation of leadership brings new results

First-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli simply asks that players be themselves, stay prepared, and give it their all during the games. "Rocco wants you to be yourself," outfielder Eddie Rosario said.
Testing his injured right ankle, Twins rookie second baseman Luis Arraez fielded grounders in the drizzle at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. The Twins mus

Arraez looks more likely to be able to play vs. Yankees

Rookie infielder Luis Arraez is less than a week removed from being carted off the field following a collision at Kansas City.
This is the pop fly on which Luis Arraez sprained his ankle during Saturday's game at Kansas City.

Arraez improves with treatment; Twins send four players home

Three days after Luis Arraez suffered a sprained right ankle that threatened his availability for the AL Division Series, the treatment is having an effect.
Eddie Rosario of the Twins was greeted at home by Nelson Cruz after homering off Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ on July 24.

Start times set for first two games of Twins-Yankees series

First pitch of Friday's game from Yankee Stadium will be at 6:07 p.m. Central time and televised on MLB Network. Saturday's game has an earlier start and a different network — 4:07 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
Twins third baseman Luis Arraez is taken from the game after an injury during the seventh inning of a game Saturday.

Arraez has Grade 1 ankle sprain; Twins will wait on playoff roster decision

No structural damage was found in Luis Arraez's right leg after Saturday's infield collision. The Twins must inform MLB which 25 players will face the Yankees in the AL Division Series by 9 a.m. Friday.
The Twins' Jake Cave, left, is congratulated by teammate Jonathan Schoop, right, following his solo home run during the first inning

Twins lose season finale 5-4 but win MLB home run title with 307

Minnesota now holds the title as baseball's most prolific home-run-hitting team, having hit three in their 5-4 loss to the Royals to overtake the Yankees on the season's final day.
Six innings after hitting his 46th home run, Jorge Soler smacked his 47th, a two-run shot off Tyler Duffey to tie the score at 3-3 Saturday.

Twins reliever Tyler Duffey's scoreless streak comes to an end

Until Saturday, Tyler Duffey hadn't given up a run since July 28, a streak of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances and 23⅔ innings.
Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios delivers to a Kansas City batter during the first inning

Berrios looks sharp as Twins beat Royals for rain-shortened victory No. 100

Jose Berrios pitched like a Game 1 starter Friday night, delivering a performance that the Twins would like to see repeated next week on the road in the playoffs.

Twins believe Kepler will be ready for playoffs

Max Kepler has been in the lineup only twice in three weeks but seems to have made steady progress in his recovery from the soreness near his left shoulder
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli says the team will probably wait until the last second — meaning up through next week — to make its final decisions o

Baldelli's No. 1 priority: Making tough decisions about the postseason

Winning 100 games for the second time in franchise history isn't nearly as vital as making choices that will help set the Twins' 25-man roster for the playoffs, which open next Friday, most likely against the Yankees in New York.
Jonathan Schoop celebrated his two-run home run with Willians Astudillo on Thursday.

Backup brigade leads Twins to 300th home run and 99th victory

The Twins reached 300 home runs and pulled within one win of 100 on Thursday, finishing off a sweep of the Tigers with a 10-4 victory at Comerica Park.
The Twins celebrate after clinching the AL Central on Wednesday

Gonzalez makes Buxton, Pineda part of Twins' bubbly party

Marwin Gonzalez included injured center fielder Byron Buxton and suspended righthander Michael Pineda in on the Twins clubhouse celebration via FaceTime on his phone.
Miguel Sano celebrates with teammates after the Twins clinched the AL Central Division championship on Wednesday night.

Corks popped: Twins win AL Central title

The Twins broke out the champagne a little over two hours after rookies Randy Dobnak and Luis Arraez — who weren't even on the roster a few months ago — helped carry them past the Tigers in the 5-1 victory that clinched the AL Central title.
Sam Dyson

Reliever Dyson has shoulder surgery, could miss entire 2020 season

Sam Dyson had capsule repair surgery in his right shoulder in Los Angeles, and manager Rocco Baldelli said the 2020 season is in jeopardy for the reliever.
Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson walked to the dugout in the eighth inning

Gibson willing to take on new role; Kepler 'making progress'

Kyle Gibson is willing to do whatever it takes to be part of the Twins postseason plans; Max Kepler's playing status has become a bit complicated.
Eddie Rosario celebrated hitting a two-run double in the seventh inning in Detroit.

Rosario answers challenge from Tigers; Twins trim magic number to two

Eddie Rosario made Detroit pay for intentionally walking Nelson Cruz. Rosario belted a crucial two-run double, the winning margin to open the three-game road series.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli took the ball from Trevor Hildenberger after the righthander failed to retire any of the five Royals batters he faced in

Dreadful ninth inning for bullpen does in Twins in 12-5 loss to Royals

Kansas City scored seven runs off Taylor Rogers and two other relievers, but the Twins' magic number fell to four anyway.
Twins catcher Jason Castro couldn't tag out Ryan McBroom on a second-inning sacrifice fly Saturday — the ball popped out of his glove after he appli

Jason Castro not looking to say farewell to Twins

The catcher becomes a free agent after the season, following three years in Minnesota.
Miguel Sano (22) hit a home run into the third deck in left field on Thursday night.

After Gibson bombs, Twins unleash barrage of bombas to beat Royals

Kyle Gibson was yanked in the second inning after seven Royals in a row reached base. Then Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver went to work as the Twins reduced their magic number to six.
Twins third baseman Luis Arraez celebrated with third base coach Tony Diaz after hitting a home run in July.

Third-base coach Diaz is ready — nearly always — with congratulations

Tony Diaz and his powerful players practice their celebratory hand slaps — except in one notable case.
Eddie Rosario (20) was tagged out at third base by Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada (10) when he tried to stretch a double into a triple w

Silent night: Twins bats shut down by White Sox bullpen in 3-1 loss

Eight Chicago pitchers combined to hold the Twins to three hits, all of them coming after Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi, who pitched well, had been removed from the game.
Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop fielded a ball hit by Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez on Sept. 7.

Schoop can pivot and throw with the best on double plays

Jonathan Schoop has been a part of 60 of the Twins' 124 double plays despite playing only 103 games.
Cleveland's Roberto Perez, right, is congratulated by Franmil Reyes after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning

Gibson's relief appearance falters, Twins lose series finale in Cleveland

Kyle Gibson made a surprise relief appearance and surrendered a game-turning three-run homer to Roberto Perez, and the error-prone Twins dropped a sloppy 7-5 decision to the Indians.
Twins relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol

Graterol impresses as a reliever; enough to make it a long-term plan?

Rookie flamethrower Brusdar Graterol has been a starter in the minors for the Twins organization, but he will be used out of the bullpen the rest of this year.
Miguel Sano reacts after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning in the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Indians

Grand sweep: Sano's slam sends Twins' magic number to 9

Miguel Sano crushed a tie-breaking grand slam in Game 2 of a Saturday doubleheader, and the Twins all but terminated the Indians' three-year reign atop the AL Central with 2-0 and 9-5 victories.