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.

Hicks hits three home runs for Twins

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 7, 2013 - 12:36 PM

Update: Twins center field hopeful Aaron Hicks hit three home runs in his first four at-bats in Thursday's exhibition game against the Phillies, including a leadoff homer to left against Cliff Lee.

The Twins trailed 6-5 after seven innings.

Hicks is competing with Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson for the starting center field job, and is batting .385 with four home runs during spring training.

He also homered in the fifth and seventh innings today.

Come back to later today for more on Hicks' power display.


I'm up in Clearwater for the Twins-Phillies showdown while Phil Miller takes it easy in Fort Myers with Twins-Red Sox.

Good pitching matchup here as Twins righthander Kyle Gibson faces Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee. Gibson gets to face some of the Phillies

Aaron Hicks is on the trip here as he continues to impress manager Ron Gardenhire and the coaching staff. The former first round pick is putting himself in position to make the jump from Class AA New Britain to the majors. Gardenhire has assurances from GM Terry Ryan that he could take Hicks north if he earned the spot, and Hicks has played the best of the candidates to this point.

Are the Twins serious about bringing Hicks north, or will they become conservative and have him start the season at Class AAA Rochester?

Keep in mind that the Twins have promoted players from Class AA straight to the majors before, including:

Brad Radke - pitched with Twins for entire career.

Eric Milton - part of the early 2000's revival

Cristian Guzman - ditto

Joe Mauer - Twins dealt Pierzynski for Nathan, Bonser and Liriano and watched Mauer reach stardom.

Twins GM Terry Ryan reminded me that Chuck Knoblauch is in that group too.

So it could happen this spring.

UPDATE: Hicks homers for the second straight day as I try to post this. That's three homers this week.

James Beresford has returned from World Baseball Classic duty in Taiwan with Australia and was rewarded with a bus ride to Clearwater. Ouch.


1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Mark Sobolewski, 3B
4. Brian Dinkelman, RF
5. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
6. Dan Rohlfing, 1B
7. Josmil Pinto, DH
8. Chris Herrmann, C
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Kyle Gibson, RHP


1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Michael Young, 3B
6. Domonic Brown, LF
7. Darin Ruf, DH
8. John Mayberry, RF
9. Erik Kratz, C

Pitching: Cliff Lee, LHP



New England 5:30 PM
Miami 72 4th Qtr 7:18
Boston 63
LA Lakers 32 2nd Qtr 3:58
New York 38
Arizona 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
St. Louis 3 3rd Prd
Washington 2
Nashville 2 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 2nd Half 0:11
East Carolina 48
Michigan 61 2nd Half 1:21
Michigan State 66
Marist 41 2nd Half
Canisius 35
Fordham 30 2nd Half
Dayton 47
Manhattan 42 2nd Half
Monmouth 24
Quinnipiac 39 2nd Half
Niagara 41
Utah 14 1st Half 9:59
Connecticut 2:00 PM
California 2:00 PM
North Dakota St 2:00 PM
Western Ill
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
(14) Texas 57 2nd Half 0:53
TCU 60
Cornell 50 2nd Half 1:26
Yale 54
Miami-Florida 66 2nd Half 1:04
Pittsburgh 79
(21) Georgia 62 2nd Half 6:58
(10) Kentucky 63
Wake Forest 61 2nd Half 1:55
(4) Notre Dame 91
Loyola-Chicago 54 2nd Half 2:40
Illinois State 67
(24) Oklahoma 23 2nd Half
West Virginia 32
St Johns 24 2nd Half
Seton Hall 40
Delaware 37 2nd Half
Hofstra 30
Binghamton 18 2nd Half
UMass Lowell 33
Vermont 24 2nd Half
Hartford 26
William & Mary 24 2nd Half
Northeastern 23
Boston College 36 2nd Half
(16) North Carolina 34
Virginia 47 2nd Half
Clemson 32
(2) Connecticut 48 2nd Half
Temple 30
Arkansas 24 2nd Half
Alabama 16
Virginia Tech 37 2nd Half
Georgia Tech 39
Kansas 28 2nd Half
(3) Baylor 32
Canisius 23 2nd Half
Rider 25
Monmouth 17 2nd Half
Fairfield 26
Quinnipiac 35 2nd Half
Saint Peters 29
Butler 29 2nd Half
Creighton 26
Wichita State 27 2nd Half
Drake 29
Evansville 23 2nd Half
Indiana State 25
(18) Miss State 2:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
Villanova 2:00 PM
Georgetown 2:00 PM
North Texas 2:00 PM
Auburn 2:00 PM
(12) Texas A&M
(11) Arizona State 2:00 PM
Missouri State 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Michigan 2:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Wisconsin 2:00 PM
Bradley 2:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida 3:00 PM
(20) Iowa 3:00 PM
(5) Maryland
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
Ole Miss
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