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.

Suitors for J.J. Hardy emerging

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 4, 2010 - 11:26 AM

I will emerge from my offseason hibernation to cover the annual winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. There will be more on this in Sunday's paper, but here's something that has developed this morning.

About six teams have talked to the Twins about shortstop J.J. Hardy in recent weeks. according to a team source. Those teams are believed to be the Astros, Cardinals. Giants, Padres, Pirates and Orioles. Yes, the Giants Sounds like they want to use Miguel Tejada to light a fire under that La Velle-shaped third baseman they have.

Indications are that no deal is imminent - but that could change this week in Orlando. The Twins are not desperate to move Hardy and expect to receive a fair return for a starting shortstop.

The Twins could use Hardy to land a quality reliever or add speed to the roster. Several relievers, including Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, are expected to leave via free agency this offseason.

Hardy, when reached at home in Tuscon, Ariz, said: ``My No. 1 choice would be to stay with the the Twins, but I understand it's a business and they might have things they have to do with payroll.''

The Twins are expected to sign switch-hitter Tsuyoshi Nishioka and use him and Alexi Casilla up the middle. One person with the club believes Nishioka should play second to help facilitate the transition to MLB.

Joe C. contributed to this blog

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