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.

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Hicks, Diamond, bullpen

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 7, 2013 - 7:06 PM

 

Here are three quick thoughts following the Twins' 11-5 loss to Toronto.

1. HICKS GETS HELP: I'm taking credit for Aaron Hicks' home run. I caught him in front of his stall before the game and said, ``it's time for you to hit another home run.'' That made him nervous. ``You can't put that on me before a game.'' Undaunted, I replied: ``Let's go. It's time. Just jump on a pitch earlier in the count.'' On a 2-1 count, Hicks hit a two-run home run, his seventh of the season. When I saw him after the game, I said, ``We need to have conversations like that one more often,'' he replied, ```I have a terrible memory, what did we talk about?'' (sigh). But this can be a good thing. We now know Hicks is a candidate for hypnosis, because he won't remember what happened to him, ha!

2. DIAMOND DUSTED: Scott Diamond is in a funk right now, but I think he deserves a few more starts to see if he can sort out his problems and stick in the rotation. That might be hard for the Twins to do, with Vance Worley and Andrew Albers (especially Albers) pitching well.

3. BULLPEN BEATDOWN: I'm worried about the bullpen. Twins relievers had given up one earned run over the last four games entering Sunday but then gave up five to the Blue Jays. ``To me, it seemed like everyone I brought in was up (in the zone),'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. The key to the bullpen is Jared Burton. Roles are pretty defined when he's pitching well, but he slumped during the homestand and gave up a couple hard hit balls in Toronto this weekend that were caught by the defense (Hicks saved his bacon on Saturday). The Twins want him to establish his fastball more before going to his trusty split-changeup. I think he also needs to pitch inside more to keep them honest.

That's it for me. I've failed this team. Phil Miller will take over for the rest of the road trip. I'll be in New York on Sunday for the All-Star Futures Game.

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