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 camp update: Correia, collisions, instant replay, Pinto, prospects

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 24, 2014 - 3:16 PM

Righthander Kevin Correia was scratched from his scheduled batting practice session on Monday because of a stiff neck.

``He said he could have pitched,' '' Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said, ``but why risk it?''

Is there a cause for concern? The Twins are confident that Correia's neck problem is very minor, to the point that he's already scheduled to pitch on Thursday during an intrasquad game at the Lee County Sports Complex. Correia was 9-13 with a 4.18 ERA in 31 starts with the Twins last season.

Righthander Phil Hughes is also scheduled to pitch in the intrasquad game on Thursday, with the rest of the pitching lineup to consist of young arms.

COLLISION DECISION

Major League Baseball on Monday announced the addition of experimental rule 7.13 on home plate collisions. Umpires will have the authority to declare a baserunner out if he went out of his way to make contact with whoever is covering home plate. A runner can also be called safe if the person covering home plate goes out of his way to block home plate.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire remains concerned about how the rule will be implemented.

``We need more information on it,'' he said. ``I need pictures. I need to see plays they’re talking about. What they want our catchers to do. What we want our baserunners to do. We need video of it to give to our players instead of saying this is what we’re going do and make a call on it.''


AS FOR REPLAY...

The managers also were updated on plans to expand instant replay this season. Basically, the league is going to use spring training as one big test period, then make adjustments. The Twins will be front and center because 16 of their spring training games, 14 at home, will be televised. That means they will have replay capabilities.

So Gardy can practice his challenges.

``It helps our situation out but not other teams,'' Gardenhire said. ``But it’ll help us because we’ll have a form of review. But it’s not going to be as detailed as it’ll be this summer at Target. They’ll have an elaborate system with the camera overhead that shows everything and all kinds of angles. I don’t’ think we’ll have it down here. It’s a start. We just have to get a better feel for it and how we’re going to approach these challenges.

``It’s like I told them I don’t want to go out there and challenge every play. I would like to walk out and ask other umpires if they saw what I saw. Like that a ball hit the ground without having to use a challenge. What if I don’t have any challenges left. I want conversation with umpires too. I don’t want them to just say do you want to challenge when I walk out there. So there’s tweaking but we’re working in the right direction to get the game right.”

Gardenhire will have a walkie-talkie hookup with Sean Harlin, the Twins' director of major league video.

PINTO UPDATE

Catcher Josmil Pinto swung a bat and caught in the bullpen on Monday and said he hoped to be 90 percent tommorrow. He's slowly recovering from his back injury, but it's doubtful he will be available for the first few spring training games.

HOW TO DEVELOP

A national writer asked Gardenhire what skills does he posses to help young players develop. It came on the heels of a discussion about Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.

``I think if you give me the best players then I’ll be a good manager,'' he said with a chuckle. ``We all know that. I’ve heard it 1,000 times. I don’t mind taking the blame for being a crappy team. That’s OK. But good players sure make you look a lot better. Developing players is about getting them on the right path. I know they always say, The Twins Way. The Twins Way is basically about respecting the game of baseball, working your tail off when you’re between the lines and letting the talent flow and letting them be their selves. I’ve heard a lot of different versions of it but more than anything else we’re about paying attention to the details of the game and working our butts off at it and try to outwork other teams.

`` I don’t know about all these pitchers who don’t strike people out and get groundballs. I’ll take a guy who throws 98 all day if he can get people out. And I’ll take a guy who hits 40 homers all day long if he takes 40 home runs. I don’t care. I just want to win baseball games. But we want them to respect the game of baseball, respect their teammates and our fans. That’s the Twins Way.''

Then he was asked about dealing with players like Sano, who has shown his edge a couple times in the minors.

``I don’t mind a guy, if other teams are hooting and hollering and buzzing you, I think there’s a time and a place where if you hit one you can watch it for a little bit,'' he said. ``Because if they’re buzzing balls by your head you have to have some fight in you in this game. And you know what, he threw the bat, and I watched that play, but if I hit one that far, if I could ever hit one that far, I might do the same thing. I might.

``I’m not saying it was right. But I enjoyed watching it because there was a lot of crap being thrown his way. But he’s learned a lot from that and this is a kid who loves to play. He plays very hard and that’s just one of those instances where they were hooting at him pretty good and he gave them a, `take this.' I don’t really think too many guys are big enough to step outside the field with him. Some guys can and some guys can’t. He can.”


 

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