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.

Twins-Red Sox pregame: WBC, Harden and Glen Perkins

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 2, 2013 - 9:44 AM


This is getaway day for Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and other players bound for the World Baseball Classic. The WBC began last night, with Chien-Ming Wang shutting down Australia. I wonder what Lance Barksdale has against Luke Hughes, but the umpire called Hughes out twice at first base when replays showed that Hughes beat the throw each time.

And Brazil tried to upend Japan this morning, but Japan came back in the eighth to win. The Fighting Blylevens just beat Korea 5-0.

Team USA's first workout is Monday. They will play the White Sox in an exhibition game on Tuesday then Colorado in an exhibition game on Wednesday. Mauer said he's looking forward to catching up with former teammate Michael Cuddyer.

About today's game....

Josh Willingham, who didn't make the trip to Jupiter on Friday because of a stiff back, is starting in left field. Jamey Carroll is back in at second base, presumably to get more at bats. But it would appear that Carroll's best chance to start for this team would be if Brian Dozier faltered at second.

Chatted with Rich Harden today. Don't expect him to pitch in a game anytime soon. Harden threw off a mound early in camp, without the best results. He's now in the middle of a throwing program. He's up to 150 feet now, but will throw from shorter distances sometimes to make sure he's not rushing things.

The other thing is mechanics. Harden said he got into bad habits through the years trying to compensate for shoulder problems. Now he's trying undo all those bad habits. This will be a long rehab, folks. I think its safe to assume that he will be rehabbing in Florida when the team breaks camp.

Kyle Gibson starts for the Twins today. He pitched well in his first outing and is a threat to crack the Opening Day rotation.

BTW, today Glen Perkins' birthday. He's turning 30.

1. Shane Victorino, RH
2. Ryan Sweeney, LF
3. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Juan Carlos Linares, DH
6. Mitch Maier, CF
7. Daniel Butler, C
8. Jose Iglesias, SS
9. Jonathan Diaz, 2B

Pitching: Clay Buchholz, RHP

1, Joe Benson, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Kyle Gibson, RHP

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