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: Hoping for a happy ending, and a timetable for Mauer

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins game coverage Updated: July 27, 2014 - 1:12 PM

Good afternoon from Target Field, where the Twins wrap up a misbegotten 10-game home stand they hoped would launch them on the road to relevance. With a 2-7 record thus far, they're simply hoping to leave town on a good note--and avoid being swept in this four-game series against the White Sox. Today's lineups:

TWINS

1--Santana, CF

2--Fuld, LF

3--Dozier, 2B

4--Plouffe, 3B

5--Arcia, RF

6--Willingham, DH

7--Parmelee, 1B

8--Fryer, C

9--Escobar, SS

P--Pino (1-3, 4.64)

WHITE SOX

1--Eaton, CF

2--Ramirez, SS

3--Abreu, 1B

4--Dunn, DH

5--Viciedo, RF

6--Gillaspie, 3B

7--De Aza, LF

8--Beckham, 2B

9--Nieto, C

P--Carroll (4-6, 4.52)

Manager Ron Gardenhire said today that Joe Mauer will begin taking batting practice in the cage on Monday, with a goal of sending him to a rehab assignment by the time the Twins return from a six-day road trip to Kansas City and Chicago. Mauer is scheduled to begin taking batting practice on the field, the next step in the progression, on Wednesday.

"If everything goes according to plan, by the time we get back here, he should be gone on a rehab,'' Gardenhire said. GM Terry Ryan said he will examine the schedules of the Twins' minor-league affiliates to decide where Mauer will go, but he hopes to send him to Class AAA Rochester for better competition.

"We'll just get him in the right place to where he won't get killed with some young kid throwing all over the place and be able to get his swings in,'' Gardenhire said.

Whenever Mauer returns, Gardenhire added, it won't come a moment too soon for a struggling club.

"Getting Mauer back is going to be huge,'' he said. "We really need him desperately. He's a big cog in our lineup. We need to get him back on the field. That's important for our baseball team, not only because of what he does on the field, but the whole package, him being around the guys and everything. He's a calming influence.

"That would be huge for us, and then kind of get right again. We have to get right again mentally. That’s what we're hoping for here. This has been really frustrating for everybody involved. It's no fun to come in this clubhouse after losing game after game.''

Enjoy the game!

RACHEL BLOUNT

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