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-Rays: Gibson vs Price a nice matchup. Warning: Buxton update below

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 22, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Nice day here in St. Petersburg as the Twins prepare to face the Rays in what should be a decent pitching matchup. Both Rays lefthander David Price and Twins righthander Kyle Gibson have started the the season well.

This comes on the day in which many of the "aces" in the league are on the mound. Verlander, Fernandez, Price, Bumgarner, Wainwright, Cueto, Lester, Tanaka, Shields are all starting today.

The Twins are 6-3 over their last nine games, outscoring opponents 52-32 during that time. Can the offense keep it up? The Twins are batting just .250 as a team but, thanks to a league-leading 96 walks, they have the best on base percentage in baseball at .354.

Four Twins players - Brian Dozier, Josmil Pinto, Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe - are among the top 10 in walks in the AL.

Will check back soon with updates and the Rays' lineup.

One more thing: Byron Buxton took batting practice on a field in Fort Myers today and is making progress in his comeback from a left wrist injury. He is on track to start playing in extended spring training games early next week.

UPDATES

Darin Mastroianni has been claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the 16th round in 2007. Ron Antony said he would have liked to have kept Mastroianni in the organization and had hoped to get him through waivers. But I know one Blue Jays scout who was upset they lost Mastroianni to the Twins in 2012. Toronto planned to move Mastroianni to second base before they lost him on waivers. Let's see if they revisit that now that he's back in the fold.

Antony spent most of Monday's off-day finalizing paperwork on Jason Bartlett's release and retirement. Officially, the Twins got Bartlett through release waivers Monday and he is now retired. The Twins now have 39 spots taken on their 40-man roster.

Sam Fuld was in the weight room on Tuesday when he stopped at a mirror to take a look at himself with Twins colors on. Fuld is here. and is available. He's just not starting because David Price, one of the top lefthanders in the game, is on the mound for the Rays tonight. Fuld said his goal for today was to meet everyone before the first pitch.

Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia, Antony said, are still 10 days to two weeks away from returning to action. Arcia is ahead of Willingham, who is still tender where the broken bone is. Willingham is swinging off a tee, though, he just can't start taking batting practice until all the pain is gone from the wrist.

For those of you watching at home, the Rays have changed a couple things in The Trop. That restaurant in center field is gone, so fans can know walk around the entire stadium. And some seats have been covered up. They say it's because of bad sight lines, which might be part of the reason. I think LOD is other problem - Lack Of Demand.

Twins (9-9)

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

Pitching: Kyle Gibson, RHP

Rays (9-10)

Ben Zobrist, 2B
Desmond Jennings, CF
Matt Joyce, DH
Evan Longoria, 3B
James Loney, 1B
Wil Myers, RF
David DeJesus, LF
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Molina, C

Pitching: David Price, LHP

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