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.

Thome arrives, will meet "Nishi" on a back field

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 20, 2011 - 9:24 AM

I spent some time this morning on the minor league side of the complex to see just how big a media horde is here to cover Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

I counted about 15 members of the Japanese media when I arrived. I chilled in the parking lot until a black Escalade entered the lot and backed into a parking spot. Nishioka was behind the wheel.

He got out, signed an autograph for some rube who couldn't wait for him to get two feet from his truck, then went inside the workout facility. He emerged after a few minutes to play catch on a small field next to the minor league batting cages.

Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra appeared and introduced himself to Nishioka and interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. Vavra, a few minutes later, said that Nishioka will hit with Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel today.

So after a couple days of working out on his own, Nishioka will spend some time with his new teammates.

Not much else going on today., Thome reported to camp. Scott Baker said his elbow is coming around nicely, There are indications that Justin Morneau will report to camp tomorrow.

Got several questions through e-mail and twitter (@LaVelleNeal) about Pat Neshek. I watched him throw yesterday. He looked like the same old Neshek to me, so I need to see him face hitters before determining where he is at.

Twins staffers really are giving Jose Mijares credit for being in a little better shape than he was a year ago. 

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