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 postgame: Plenty going on besides 3-1 loss to Cardinals

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 19, 2014 - 5:31 PM

Before the game recap....


Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton hasn't played since Sunday, when he dived after a ball and sprained his left wrist. Brad Steil, the Twins' director of minor league operations, said Buxton is considered day-to-day.
Buxton was invited to major league camp and showed all of his talents before being cut on March 9. After rejecting possibility that he could reach the majors this season, I have changed my mind and expect the Twins to call him up during the second half of the season.


The Twins are following the competitions for some roster spots in which no one stands out - and there's 10 days left before they head to Chicago to open the season against the White Sox. It led to a blunt assessment of some camp battles from assistant General Manager Rob Antony.
``I wish some guys would step up and earn a job,'' Antony said. ``No one is really doing that. All these guys who are in competition. Hicks hasn't been anything special this spring. Neither has Presley in center field. So there's your centerfield battle.''
Hicks entered Wednesday batting .269 in spring games. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and bloop single on Wednesday. Presley was batting .167 and 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts.
Antony moved on to the race for the final spot in the starting rotation,
``(Samuel) Deduno has done a nice job and (Kyle) Gibson's going today.,'' he said. ``(Vance) Worley didn't help himself at all (Tuesday). (Scott) Diamond has just been fair. So nobody has really stepped up to try and earn the spot. That's a bad feeling when you're looking at giving spots away.''
Gibson helped his cause by holding the Cardinals to one run over 41/3 innings on Wednesday. Deduno gave up two runs Wednesday over 22/3 innings, but manager Ron Gardenhire felt he threw the ball well. Worley, however, has a 13.50 ERA this spring while Diamond is 1-0, 5.59.
Antony continued to competition for bench spots.
``(Jason) Kubel hasn't been very good,'' Antony said. ``I think he's got a hit (actually two) all spring. (Jason) Bartlett is hitless. (Eduardo) Escobar has had defensive lapses and made mistakes in the field. So these are the guys battling for a utility spot, so it's hard to get excited and say, `this is our guy,' when no one is doing particularly well.''
Antony spoke before Bartlett got this first hit of the spring, a hard single to right during a hit-and-run in the sixth that led to the Twins'  first run. But Antony's disappointment was obvious as he calls for someone to step up.

Different opinions

Antony's comments came during a discussion about the differences in opinion that pop up between managers and the front office at this time of year. For instance, Gardenhire is pushing for Jason Bartlett, who just got his first hit of spring on Wednesday.
``He's very confident he's had a positive attitude,'' Gardenhire said. ``We'll see. There's some arguing going on. I hope I win.''
Gardenhire was asked if a manager should worry about things GM's worry about, like who's out of options. The Twins have eight such players in camp.
``I understand all that stuff,'' he said. ``Options are deceiving  because if you are out of options that means you had chances, you had lots of opportunities.
``They are deceiving. They don't deceive me. They are in my way, let's put it that way.''


Righthander Kyle Gibson pitched well once again. He said the stiff wind at his back flattened out his sinker some, but he was able to make adjustments and put together another strong outing - one earned run over 41/3 innings. And this game against a Cardinal team that had Matt Carpenter, Matt Holiday, Allen Craig and other regulars in it.

Gibson is pushing hard for a roster spot, whether it's in the rotation or bullpen.

Righthander Samuel Deduno retired the first six batters he faced before Peter Bourjos led off the eighth with a double. Deduno walked the next batter, and those two baserunners eventually came around to score. Deduno's ERA rose from 0.93 to 2.19 but the Twins remain pleased with his spring so far.

I can see a scenario in which Gibson is the fifth starter and Deduno works out of the bullpen. Deduno has relieved some in the minors, and he's coming off of shoulder surgery. The Twins did stretch him out on Wednesday but they haven't given him a start yet. ``I missed a couple pitches and they hit them pretty good,'' Deduno said, ``but I'm feeling very good.''

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked that they gave Jason Bartlett a game ball for finally getting his first hit in 30 plate appearances this spring. Bartlett singled hard to right field as Aaron Hicks took off for second. Hicks was waved around third and scored the Twins' only run of the game.

Bartlett has a batting average now - .037.

Gardenhire has made no secret of his support for Bartlett. He believes the clubhouse needs players who have had success in the past, and believes Bartlett would be great in that playing mentor role. But it would sure make things easier if Bartlett got a few hits.

``His last three games he's had, out of 10 at bats, eight of them have been quality at bats,'' Gardenhire said before the game. ``A couple walks, hitting the ball on the nose.  Just make sure his legs are underneath him, that he can move around and we'll see how it breaks down at the end. I like the kid an awful lot.''

Pedro Florimon was 0-for-2 but went to his left to gobble up Yadier Molina's grounder in the second, spun and threw to first for the out. It reminded you of his value to the team. It was Florimon's second start since returning to the lineup following surgery to remove his appendix late last month. Gardenhire is going play him as much as possible to help him get his timing at the plate and his legs in game shape.

Oh. Aaron Hicks drew a walk in the third inning - his first of the spring. He'll have to do that more often if he's going to bat leadoff in this offense. The manager is fretting over the lineup right now and needs to see his leadoff hitter actually be a table-setter.


Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
CS-Bakersfield 74
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
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