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.

Wednesday morning briefing: Thoughts from Gardy

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 8, 2010 - 10:03 AM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire could not attend the winter meetings this year because of a family emergency. But he did speak to Twin Cities beat writers during a conference call.

Update: Look, Gardenhire's wife has two family members who aren't doing very well right now and he's trying to be supportive during a tough time. Can the bowling and Nick Punto jokes.

Like everyone else, he's curious to see what type of player he has in Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Japanese infielder the club hopes to sign.

``He's a good player,'' Gardenhire said. ``He's a speed guy. He can run a little bit. He's won some gold gloves over there but I haven't had the opportunity to see him play.

``I really don't know  a lot about him and won't know until we get him to spring training.''

Gardenhire wants to watch Nishioka in the field before deciding if he will play second or short - but he does know that Alexi Casilla can play short if needed.

 `` I have always said,  for me,  I think he moved really well at shortstop,'' Gardenhire said, ``I think he's very acrobatic. I think he's  very athletic, he can go get the ball and throw from all kinds of angles. I think he's comfortable coming in and getting the ball rather than waiting for it.''

The key, Gardenhire said, is getting Casilla to play like he did in 2008 when he batted .281 and held down the No. 2 spot in the order.

Other thoughts from Gardy

On the bullpen upheaval: ``You have to wait and see how everything breaks down and see who is and isn't here.''

On Pat Neshek, who came back from Tommy John surgery last season with diminished velocity: ``I think spring is going to be huge for him to see if he can come back and find some more velo and go from there with the Shack-Man. We know he can get big league hitters out. It just takes time.''

 On Carl Pavano possibly returning: ``I think he would love to pitch for us. Hopefully we will get him back and we'll have some really tough decisions to make (with the rest of the rotation).''

On getting Joe Nathan back and how he might have to watch Matt Capps close is he's not quite ready: ``I'm sure he's going to go to spring training wanting to be the closer and that's the way he has to attack it. He has to go in like that. We expect that and the same way with Capps. That will be a good problem to have.''




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