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.

Gibson on the mound as the Twins play the Cardinals

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 19, 2014 - 11:25 AM


Jason Bartlett gets the start at third today after appearing at center field last night. He's fighting to win a utility spot on the roster and the Twins are getting a look at him all over the field. It would be nice if he would start hitting. He struck out and walked in two plate appearances last night and is 0-for-24 at the plate.

I get the sense he's a preferred candidate because the staff wants his veteran influence in the clubhouse.

This also is a big stretch for Aaron Hicks, who is starting in center field today. Hicks said recently that he's feeling better at the plate and has been working with Rod Carew on hitting the ball up the middle more and being aggressive in fastball counts. If he shows improvement in those areas he has a chance to have a decent year after floundering to a .192 batting average last season.

Can Chris Colabello keep getting hits? The one-time Independent League star is having a good spring.

Kyle Gibson, today's starter, looks to add on to a strong spring with another good outing today. Gibson and Samuel Deduno have separated themselves from the other starting candidates in camp.

This will be a good test for Gibson, as several Cardinals regulars are in the lineup. One player to keep up with is second baseman Kolten Wong, who was drafted by the Twins in the 16th round but did not sign. The Cards took him in the first round in 2011. Now he'll pair with Jhonny Peralta to form a potentially productive middle infield.

No one was scheduled to head over to the minor league side to extra work today, but that could change. Sometimes a veteran will decide he needs extra at-bats and try to wedge himself into a game over there.


Twins

Aaron Hicks, CF
Jason Bartlett, 3B
Chris Colabello, DH
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Wilkin Ramirez LF
Chris Parmelee, 1B
Josmil Pinto, C
Eduardo Escobar, 2B
Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Kyle Gibson, RHP

Cardinals

Matt Carpenter, 3B
Kolten Wong, 2B
Matt Holliday, DH
Allen Craig, RF
Yaider Molina, C
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Matt Adams, 1B
Peter Bourjos, CF
Stephen Piscotty, LF

Pitching: Carlos Martinez, RHP

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