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 postgame: Three thoughts from LEN3

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 5, 2012 - 12:01 AM

Here are three things on my mind after the Twins lose 8-3 at Boston:

1. EXTRA WORK?: The Twins added three extra days to their workout schedule in order to address issues from last season. On Sunday, they threw the ball around on one play and a player made a baserunning gaffe on another.

A player can look good in drills all he wants. He has to take into games. After Sean Burroughs mishandled Adrian Gonzalez's grounder in the fourth, Tsuyoshi Nishioka dropped the deflection then hurried the throw home, Rene Rivera left home plate to gobble up the throw but watched it scoot under his glove.

Phil Dumatrait did pick up the ball and threw to home in time to get Dustin Pedroia, but the issue is the mishandling on the field.

````It's a work in progress,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We still got someone out at home but it wasn't fun. Don't want to see the ball bouncing around. We just want to catch the ball and not panic. If we miss a play then we can't react like we did after that.''

And Gardy was really unhappy with Ben Revere in the seventh. Revere got picked off when he took off too soon for second. Darin Mastroianni was on third at the time, tried to score and was thrown out.

``They are not covering second base and (Revere)  got picked off,'' Gardy said. ``They are letting him go. And he takes off running before the pitcher throws the ball home. They are not covering. You can not get picked off.

``These are the fundamentals of the game.''

There's plenty of time to work on these areas,

2. FRANKIE'S DAY: Francisco Liriano has to be encouraged that he threw more strikes towards the end of his outing than he did when he fell behind the first four batters he faced. He didn't give up a run, but 12 of his 25 pitches were balls.

``After that I think I made the adjustment and was keeping the ball down like I want to, just working my fastball better the last hitter,'' Liriano said.

Liriano was able to make that adjustment before things got worse, which is a good sign. I'm not going to judge Liriano readiness for the season until his last start of spring. He's going to need time to get his mechanics right. He got two strikeouts with his slider on Sunday, but his slider looked more like a slurve, It's early.

3. PIMP MY FIELD!: Down here, when one club gets an upgrade at their stadium, the other team has asked for their upgrade. Sort of a brother-sister "I want ice cream too!!!!!" thing.

Well, Boston now has a $88 million complex. The Twins don't want $88 million but they want Hammond Stadium and the surrounding fields tricked out a little bit.

The Twins will meet with Lee County officials on Monday about the issue, Populous has been hired to complete a, ``master plan,'' for the facility. The Twins want everything expanded, more seats, a Tiki bar, aquatherapy, a dorm for prospects. It will be interesting to see what they can get.

Lee County has prepared for this, having purchased 14 acres next to the facility for expansion. But the county' might be tapped out after funding the Red Sox project. I don't think the Twins will be very happy if the county takes care of the Red Sox - knowing that they would have to deal with the Twins - but fail to do so.

``There are always going to be economic realities and that's where these projects get to be heavy lifting,'' Twins president Dave St. Peter said after being awed by jetBlue Park on Sunday. ``We know that well from our experience in Minnesota and we don't take that for granted in southwest Florida.''

I'm not asserting that the Twins would threaten to move. Their agreement with Lee County expires in 2020. But their expansion project might have to come in installments instead of all at once if Lee County can't figure out how to raise $40-50 million. Look for this to play out over the next few months.

 

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