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.


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
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