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.

Gardenhire misses game to attend funeral

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 11, 2014 - 5:10 PM


Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has left team to travel to the Akron, Ohio area to attend the funeral of Mike Hirschbeck, the son of MLB umpire John Hirschbeck.

Terry Steinbach will manage the team Friday and will do so again on Saturday in Gardenhire's absence.

Mike Hirschbeck's association with the Twins goes back more than 20 years. Diagnosed with a rare brain disease - adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD - he underwent a bone-marrow transplant in at the University of Minnesota Hospitals in 1992. Then manager Tom Kelly visited him in the hospital at the time. Mike also got to know Gardenhire and the rest of the coaching staff.

His father is one of more well-liked umpires in the league. Based in Sarasota during spring training, Mike Hirschbeck would come over to Ed Smith Stadium and be the Twins' batboy when they came to town to play the Reds, before they moved to Arizona, and later the Orioles. Mike last was the Twins' batboy in 2013.

The Twins are sending flowers to the funeral and the coaching staff is making a donation to the Hirschbeck's foundation.

Jason Bartlett, recovering from a left ankle sprain, ran the bases before the game and said everything went, "Great!" The Twins now must determine when to send him out on a minor league rehab assignment. Once he goes, Bartlett is expected to get plently of at bats.

Josh Willingham is still day-to-day with a bruised left wrist, but Steinbach said if he still can't play in the next few days the club will have to consider a DL stint for him.

The Twins will try to snap a three-game losing streak tonight, as well as a nine-game skid at home, going back to last season.

The two leading hitters in the league are in the park tonight, Kansas City's Sal Perez (.458) and the Twins' Jason Kubel (.448).

Brian Dozier enters the game tied for the AL lead with nine runs.

Mike Pelfrey is one of three AL pitchers to have given up a league-high four home runs.

Royals (4-4)

Norichika Aoki, RF
Omar Infante, 2B
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Alex Gordon, LF
Salvador Perez, C
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Alcides Escobar, SS

Pitching: Brue Chen, LHP

Twins (3-6)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Chris Colabello, RF
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, LF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS

Kyle Gibson, RHP

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