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.

Twins notes on the eve of the opening of camp

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 16, 2014 - 3:48 PM

Twins pitchers and catchers reported to camp on Sunday, historically an uneventful day. Once in awhile someone will be late to camp or someone will be hung up on visa issues  but nothing like that this season. Many players have already arrived and have been working out at the Lee County Sports Complex on their own.

Ricky Nolasco is one noticeable absence, but he's driving in from Miami and was expected to arrive tonight. That's perfectly fine with the Twins. Things get underway at 7:30 a.m. Twin Cities time tomorrow with a catcher's meeting followed by a whoever-is-here meeting.

I'm going to throw weather in your faces now. It's 75 degrees as I write this and it's supposed to be 82 tomorrow for the first workout. Think whatever you want about this team, it's a reason to escape the polar vortex and get down here. I mean, Alaska has been warmer for most of the winter. Until last week, Barrow, AK - which is along northern edge of the state, has been warmer than the Twin Cities. That makes me cry. Well, it did before I flew down here on Tuesday.

I've been on the back fields since Wednesday watching guys work out. Some observations:

Trevor Plouffe looks serious about turning his career around. He's added 10-12 pounds of muscle and really has some impressive guns.  Miguel Sano should debut sometime this season, but he won't have to be rushed if Plouffe can find his power stroke.

Pedro Florimon, of all people, has added some muscle. I don't know if he will ever hit - he came to the Twins from Baltimore with the rep of being a very good defensive player with no bat - but he should be able to at least hit .250 with 12 home runs. And I mean a functional .250 that includes productive outs.

I was about 100 yards away when I saw a guy take the mound and start throwing. I immediately recognized the delivery - it was Matt Guerrier. He threw a lot of strikes and, as I walked closer, his ball was moving. I have no idea how hard he was throwing, though. Guerrier was one of the chemistry guys in the bullpen during his previous stint with the club, a reason why he's getting another shot.

Alex Wimmers, the former first round pick, does have a nice change up. I now understand the comparisons to Brad Radke because the pitch dives toward the ground (Wimmers' also moves in on left-handed hitters). He's a guy you root for because of all the setbacks he has had.

Just a reminder that, if you are coming down here, to get to the park early on game days or risk being sent to the new south parking lot that is located on the OTHER side of the softball fields. From there, you'll have to hop on a shuttle cart to get closer to gates.

Mike Pelfrey needs to add an off-speed pitch and has elected to go with a split-fingered fastball. I think it's a great idea. Pelfrey is one of those guys who just can't get a feel for a change up. I covered Tim Belcher, who was the same way. He developed a splitter and used it as his change up with pretty good success.

Byron Buxton is not going north with the team, Miguel Sano probably won't go north with the team. That question is being asked more and more, and I suggest to expect both to begin the season in the minors and allow yourself to be shocked if something crazy happens. I think there's a chance both could be up in September. But today, no way.

That's it for now. Will check in tomorrow during the first day of camp!

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