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.

Vance Worley sold to Pirates, other Twins notes

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 25, 2014 - 5:30 PM

The Class AAA Rochester rotation is pretty much set, with Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Logan Darnell, Kris Johnson and Sean Gilmartin. If Vance Worley was going to stick around, he would have to pitch out of the bullpen. So the Twins looked to move him.

Since he was waived last week, teams could deal for him now without giving a 40-man roster spot to him, And the Twins found a taker in the Pirates.

The Twins sold Worley, their Opening Day starter last season,  to the Pittsburgh Pirates for an undisclosed amount.

Worley made four appearances during spring training, three as a starter. In 102/3 innings, he gave up 16 runs on 22 hits and five walks. That includes a May 18 game against Tampa Bay during which he was tagged for six doubles. He was cut from camp, clearing waivers, shortly after that.

Worley came to the Twins along with righthander Trevor May before the 2013 season in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere. Worley wound up as the Twins' Opening Day starter last season, taking the loss in a matchup against Detroit ace Justin Verlander. He continued to struggle after that, and was sent down to the minors in May after going 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA.

He was shut down late in the season because of shoulder problems, but reported to camp 25 pounds lighter and seemed ready to fight for a roster spot.

More on the Guerrier signing

Righthander Matt Guerrier didn't go far after being released on Monday. He signed a minor-league deal with the Twins on Tuesday as he completes his comeback from flexor mass surgery in August.

``Everything is going in the right direction,'' said Rob Antony, the Twins assistant General Manager. ``The velocity is fine. He's in great shape. They love him down in the clubhouse.''

Guerrier reported to camp on time but was eased through his bullpen work because of the surgery. He made gave up three runs over four innings this spring, will remain in extended spring training while the rest of the team heads to Class AAA Rochester to start the season. Once he feels he's 100 percent, he will join the Red Wings.

If Guerrier has not been called up by May 8, he can become a free agent and look for another club.

``I think the out clause is fine, with reasonable time for us to take a look and if there are several guys ahead of him there is no sense of holding him down there all year to see if we need him in August or September,'' Antony said. ``If he pitches well, then we make the decision to bring him up to the big leagues, If not, and he's pitching well, then he can go seek an opportunity with another big league club.''

Possible non-sellout?

With less than to weeks to go, there are still 4,000-5,000 unsold tickets for the Twins' home opener on Apr. 7 against the A's. While some of the sluggish sales could be attributed to the run of bad weather, the Twins' 291 losses over the three previous seasons has made the ticket far from a hot commodity.

``We remain confident that we will approach a sellout,'' Twins president Dave St. Peter said.

The Twins have announced home opener sellouts in early March in some seasons. Not this one.

Burton feeling better

Jared Burton knows better than to get nervous when early spring training outings don't go well, like on March 5 when he gave up two hits, one walk - and a three-run homer to Baltimore's Johnny Monell.

Spring is about progression, Burton reminded himself. And he's seen his velocity creep up during spring training as he entered Tuesday on a run of four scoreless appearances on one hit, two walks and one strikeout.


``It's all about that comfort level,'' he said. ``You're throwing bullpens then you get in a game and look around and there's a lot of stuff going on. You have to teach yourself to focus then after four or five games you start to settle in. You actually feel your stuff working instead of trying to get comfortable. The last three or four outings I've felt that way.''

``Arm strength will continue to get better. Most of the time it continues to get better through May. But as far as command and comfort, feel and pitches, I'm where I want to be right now.''

Burton posted a 2.18 ERA in 64 games in 2012, his first year with the club after signing as a free agent. His ERA rose to 3.82 last season as he gave up 10 runs over his last 12 outings.

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