La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. 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 other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twins pre-camp notes: Toma, Mauer, Sano

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 12, 2013 - 12:05 PM

One of the signs, in recent years, that spring training is near has been veteran groundskeeper George Toma dragging the infield between  7 a.m. and 7 p.m. But Toma has been unable to make it to Hammond Stadium.

Toma, who was worked every Super Bowl, suffered a blood clot while working at the Louisiana Superdome for the Ravens-49ers showdown a couple weeks ago. He's been given blood-thinning medication and, for now, will not be allowed to travel to Fort Myers to work over Hammond Stadium. Toma has been the Twins' spring training groundskeeping maven since 2002.

``They did not rule out the chance that he would make it here, but he had a little bit of a setback,'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. ``It's not a given that he won't be here, but I haven't talked to him in a week.''

Hopefully the, 'Sultan of Sod,'' will make it here. It's strange looking out on the field now and not seeing Toma with his shirt off - flashing that leather skin - while dragging the infield.

Some other notes:

  • Several pitchers and catchers got in workouts on Tuesday, including Joe Mauer. I chatted with Mauer for a few minutes this morning. Physically, he looks great, although he said he was under the weather last week. He's looking forward to working with several new pitchers in camp, and he senses that the players who were around last year are determined to change things around in 2013.
  • Liam Hendriks was one of a few pitchers to throw in the bullpen on Tuesday.
  • Trevor Plouffe was among position players who worked out today. There were Jamey Carroll, Brandon Boggs, Brian Dozier sightings too.
  • Most players fly to spring training. Some rent cars. Those who can afford it ship their cars. Then there's former Gopher Kyle Knudson, who hopped in his car, headed south, stopped in Iowa to pick up B.J. Hermsen, then completed a 28-hour drive to Fort Myers.
  • Super prospect Miguel Sano already is in Fort Myers, along with Kennys Vargas and Romy Jimenez. Vargas and Sano are big boys, and the Twins can keep an eye on their workouts this way. I wouldn't be surprised if Sano makes a couple spring training road trips this year.
  • Righthander Jose Berrios (Puerto Rico), outfielder Eddie Rosario (Puerto Rico) and lefthander Andrew Albers (Canada) will work out with the major leaguers before joining their national teams for the World Baseball Classic. Rosario is a second baseman in the Twins farm system but will play outfield for Puerto Rico.
  • Special instructor Eddie Guardado stopped by the clubhouse on Tuesday.
  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will meet with his coaching staff at 3 p.m. (your time) today to go over the workout schedule and other issues, then pitchers and catchers will take the field tomorrow at 8 a.m. for the start of training camp.

 

 

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