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.

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.


Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Dallas 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Chicago 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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