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.

Quick notes: Looking ahead to Sunday

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 24, 2011 - 2:35 PM

The Twins finished their short workout on Thursday to hit the links - but not before Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered some details about his plans for Sunday's night's opener against the Bawston Red Sawx.

Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka will start and get a couple of at bats.

``I think by the time we get to Sunday he’ll be ready to go,'' Gardenhire said of Nishioka. `` We start out in exhibition games you’re going to get one or two at-bats, play four or five innings, three innings. He’ll be ready for that, I’m sure. I’ll talk to him and make sure.

`` We’ll find a schedule like we do for most of the guys but I expect him to play Sunday night. I think he’ll be ready for that. I’d like to write his name in the lineup and put him out there. That would be fun for everybody. I think a lot of our fans are excited to see him get out there and hopefully Sunday night he’ll be ready to go.”

Righthander Carl Pavano will start and Drew Butera will catch him. But Gardenhire indicated that he expects Joe Mauer to be ready to catch Pavano on Opening Day Apr. 1 at Toronto.

Outfielder Delmon Young has turf toe and will not be asked to take part in running drills for a few days.

``He was working out and it got a little sore, so we’ll just back him off, no running right now, doing the machines,'' Gardenhire said.

After Pavano, the spring training rotation, for now, will be some mix of Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing. Righthander Scott Baker (elbow) and lefthander Francisco Liriano (shoulder) are slightly behind the others but there is more than enough time for them to get ready for the start of the regular season.

Righthander Joe Nathan was very pleased with his live batting practice session on Thursday. The man is amazing. He's had no setbacks since Tommy John surgery.

``I don't see any reason why I won't be out there Opening Day,'' he said.

And here's a Justin Morneau update: He's working out with no problems. Getting him to talk about his return to action is going to be tough because he doesn't want to talk about it every day - but some national scribe rolls into camp each day and wants to ask Morneau how he feels.

Gardenhire spoke about Morneau on Thursday:

``“He says he feels good, feels great, says it’s nice to be out there,'' Gardenhire said. ``He’s feeling really good. His hardest time is not so much at the ballpark. His downtime is when he worries himself to death probably. His downtime is harder on him than his time at the ballpark. When he stays busy everything’s going fine, it’s just when he’s sitting around that’s when he has to guard. Staying active is not a problem. It’s the other part of it. That’s the part he’s trying to get over the hump, and he says he’s feeling a lot better that way, too.”


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