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.

Some minor league notes before the Twins-Dodgers game

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Off the field Updated: May 1, 2014 - 11:52 AM


The occupation of Target Field has begun. Just got here and getting set up for a longgggg day at the park. The tarp is down. It's cold, with occasional drizzle. Yuck. Looking at the radar, it's going to be like this for....hours.

Mike Pelfrey will face Dan Haren in game one. The matchup everyone is waiting for is game two, when Kris Johnson squares off against Red Patterson. Come on over, it should be a lot of fun.

I wasn't here last night, opting to watch the whacky Wild-Avs game. About to head down to the clubhouse to see what's going on. But I wanted to drop some notes about the trip to Fort Myers I took last week after the Twins-Rays series.

As you read, I was able to sit down with Eddie Rosario for awhile to see how his 50-game suspension is going, His English is rough (he's taking English classes in Fort Myers), but he sounded pretty sincere about how bad he felt about the decision he made and how he needs to focus on his career and his family. He'll be a New Britain by the end of the month with a chance to salvage this season.

Took in Class A Fort Myers' game against Palm Beach last Friday.  Jose Berrios gave up a run in the first inning but was nails after that. He can change speeds and has a nice curveball. The stadium scoreboard had his fastballs from 94-96, with several 96's. To make sure I went down into the stands and asked a scout for his readings. He said he never saw any 96's on his gun, but Berrios settled in at 94 and hit 95 several times. So the Hammond Stadium scoreboard is a plus-1,

Jorge Polanco hit a solo homer in the game, one day after hitting a grand slam. ``He squares everything up,'' Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz said. It's been nice to see him go from a skinny, shy, homesick kid to someone who could be a player.

Travis Harrison in left, ugh. That is going to be a work in progress. To be honest, I'm a little surprised the Twins have pulled him from third base this early in his major league career.

Watched some players work out over at extended spring training. One player who caught my eye was shortstop Nelson Molina, a lanky kid who stands 6-3 but is listed at 154 pounds. He towered over the other infielders, and looked fairly smooth. Looked up his stats. He batted .110 at GCL last season. Ouch. He's definitely a project, but when you see someone that tall at short you wonder how he'll fill out and how he'll develop as a hitter. ``Last season, he was overmatched offensively, as you see by the numbers'' said Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor league operations. ``But he's gotten a lot stronger, so we'll see how he does this year.

Another shortstop, Joel Ramirez, showed nice hands and a solid arm. He batted .252 for the DSL Twins and is bouncing back from a shoulder injury.

Catcher Brian Navarreto, who was drafted in the sixth round last year, is big - in a good way. Hitting coach Riccardo Ingram said he thinks Navarretto is going to hit for power once he gets some experience.

That's about it. The grounds crew has pulled part of the tarp off the field to prepare the mound and home plate. It's not raining right now, so it looks like they have a chance to start on time. Headed downstairs and will check back soon.


The Twins, as expectred, are fired up over the Wild's series win over the Avs. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't get a chance to send Wild head coach Mike Yeo a message after last night's thrilling win. "I will now,'' Gardy said. "Congratulations, and I wil be watching.''

Gardy said he had no problem with giving Trevor Plouffe the green light on 3-0 with the bases loaded last night, saying that Plouffe has been swinging well and can blast a fastball.

Chris Colabello is not in the lineup for game one. "He needs to stay in the (strike)  zone a little bit more,'' Gardy said, "that's what /I noticed last night.''

The Twins have lost their last five interleague games.

Dodgers (15-12)

Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Miguel Olivio, C
Carl Crawford, LF

Pitching: Dan Haren, RHP

Twins (12-12)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C
Sam Fuld, RF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Eduardo Escobar, SS

Mike Pelfrey, RHP

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