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.

Twins pregame: Hicks out of the starting lineup again; Deduno will try to give hitters a chance

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Ron Gardenhire, Twins game coverage, Twins offense, Twins pitching Updated: May 29, 2014 - 12:05 PM

By AMELIA RAYNO, Star Tribune

With the Twins' hitting struggles well-documented and imminently visible after a 1-0 loss to Texas on Wednesday night, the pitching rotation is operating under a microscope of sorts.

The starter, on any given day, needs to be dang near perfect to hold a shot at getting the win, it seems.

"It all goes to our starters," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They give you a chance. And we had chances last night, we had plenty of chances to score. But it has to continue for you to be successful. These guys have to continue getting us deep into games."

Last night, Kyle Gibson was the hard-luck loser despite allowing just six hits and no earned runs. His team couldn't bail him out on the bases.

Now, right-hander Sam Deduno can only hope to do the same but with better results in order to ease Minnesota out of its five-losses-in-six-games funk. The Dominican Republic native has steadily improved with each outing, keeping hitters off-balance with his bizarre, slow-rotating, quick-sinking fastball, building a 3.96 ERA and adjusting nicely to life back in the starting rotation after starting out the year in the bullpen. 

"Over all my years of being here, to me he's the most improved," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "From day one when he was here, we were hoping he'd throw it in the area. Just no consistency with anything. But the more he's worked, he's finding consistency in the delivery. And now look, he's all over the strike zone."

There will be an extra focus today in keeping the speedy Rangers runners off the base paths, particularly with Josmil Pinto, who hasn't played since May 24, behind the plate. Throwing out potential base thieves hasn't been a strength for Pinto, who has a slow-than-average release, Gardenhire said. And Texas manager Ron Washington isn't shy in sending his players. Armed with quick options like Alex Rios (10 steals), Leonys Martin (11) and Elvis Andrus (13), the Rangers are quick off the bag. As a team, Texas has been caught 23 times, but especially with Pinto in the game, they won't be afraid to take chances.

"You can't give them free passes because [Washington] has them being very aggressive," Gardenhire said. "They don't have all their hitters in there and he's got these kids running."

** Gardenhire said centerfielder Aaron Hicks, who missed yesterday's game due to back spasms, told him this morning he was ready to play if needed, but the manager elected to hold him out of the starting lineup. He was listed as available. "We'll see how he's doing late game, once he starts really moving around," Gardenhire said.

**Danny Santana will start in center field for the second consecutive game and the sixth appearance of his major league career. The shortstop did play the position in 23 games in the minors.

"I feel a little comfortable there," he said. "Not like at shortstop, but I feel a little comfortable."

Said Gardenhire: "We'll see how he does out there today. Day game. Sun. Entertainment value."

Texas:

Shin-Soo Choo, DH
Luis Sardinas, SS
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Michael Choice, LF
Leonys Martin, CF
Robinson Chirinos, C
Rougned Odor, 2B

RHP: Nick Martinez

Twins:

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Josh Willingham, DH
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Danny Santana, CF

RHP: Sam Deduno

-- AMELIA RAYNO

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT