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 open camp: "Baseball is in the air''

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 17, 2014 - 8:43 AM

I can be a smart aleck sometimes.

The clubhouse was buzzing this morning as pitchers and catchers prepared for the first workout of the season. While chatting with some other reporters in the middle of the clubhouse, I did a double take as Joe Mauer entered the room.

I didn't say hello. I didn't wave or nod my head toward him. I walked over to his stall and said, ``What the hell are you doing here? This is for pitchers and catchers.''

``Baseball is in the air, La Velle,'' Mauer, the first baseman, replied.

Someone overheard the conversation and added: ``Justin Morneau would not have come in today.''

Mauer smiled and said: ``I'm not Mourny.''

Mauer is here to work out with the other position players here for the start of camp. All 37 pitchers and catchers reported on time for the start of workouts, with at least 16 position players already in town.

The catchers are having a meeting right now. There was an all-team meeting at scheduled for 9 a.m. eastern, then the first workout.  But the clubhouse was already bustling with activity.

Tony Oliva was in the batting cages with Jason Bartlett. Kurt Suzuki had a session with Tom Brunansky - who broke into my interview with Suzuki to pull him away. No problem, I'll catch him later.

Here's another funny story from this morning. Suzuki grabbed the chair next to him and had me sit down for the interview. It happened to be Stuart Turner's chair. Turner, who was drafted last year,  needed to get into his stall and saw me sitting in his chair but was too nervous to ask me to move (which usually happens). I didn't see any of this because I was firing questions at Suzuki.

Dustin Morse, the Twins media relations maven, comes up to me and tells me that I'm in Turner's way. I introduced myself to Turner later and gave the dude-just-tap-me-on-the-shoulder talk that I seem to have every spring training with a couple players.

Met some other players in camp for the first time. I said hello to Johan Pino and Edgar Ibarra. This is Pino's second tour of duty with the Twins. ``It's been seven years,'' he said. Actually, it's been five. Pinto was the player to be named in the Carl Pavano trade in 2009 that ended up being a nice return for the Twins, as Pavano pitched well for two years. Ibarra, a lefty, throws 92-93 with a good slider and change. He threw 311/3 innings of scoreless ball at one point last season.

Met Kennys Vargas today. He's every bit as big as Miguel Sano. He's 23 now and went .267/.364/.468 with 19 homers and 93 RBI at Class A Fort Myers last season.

Here are today's bullpen pairings

Group One:  Burton, Gilmartin, Thielbar, Meyer, Pressley

Group Two: Perkins, Tonkin, Fien, Nolasco, Hoffman

Group Three: Duensing, Guerrier, Pelfrey, Hughes, Aaron Thompson

Will check in after the workout.


St. Louis 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Minnesota 2
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Washington 1
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 4
NY Yankees 10 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Tampa Bay 0 Cancelled
Baltimore 0
Detroit 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Chicago WSox 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 6
Texas 6 FINAL
Oakland 7
Cleveland 2 FINAL
Arizona 3
Arizona 7 FINAL
LA Angels 2
Miami 0 Cancelled
Houston 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 5
San Francisco 5 Top 8th Inning
Los Angeles 3
Colorado 5 Bottom 5th Inning
San Diego 4
Milwaukee 7 Bottom 7th Inning
Cincinnati 5
Detroit 111 FINAL
Orlando 97
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Philadelphia 98
Charlotte 107 FINAL
Washington 110
Boston 96 FINAL
New York 92
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Brooklyn 106
LA Lakers 83 FINAL
Toronto 94
Miami 86 FINAL
Atlanta 99
Golden State 107 FINAL
Memphis 84
Sacramento 88 FINAL
New Orleans 102
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Houston 120
Dallas 76 FINAL
San Antonio 94
Utah 91 FINAL
Denver 107
Portland 87 FINAL
Phoenix 81
Calgary 2 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 5 FINAL
Chicago 2
Dallas 0 FINAL
Edmonton 4
Gonzaga 74
NC State 65 FINAL
Louisville 75
Utah 57 FINAL
Duke 63
Kent State 73 FINAL
Northern Ariz 74
Michigan State 62 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
(15) North Carolina 65 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 67
(18) Iowa 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 81
(9) Arizona State 65 FINAL
(7) Florida State 66
(14) Stanford 60 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 81
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