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 postgame: Mauer sighting on Wednesday?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 14, 2011 - 5:01 PM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said there's a, ``good chance,'' Joe Mauer makes his spring training debut on Wednesday when the Twins play host to the Mets.

``It has been talked about,'' Gardenhire said.

Mauer has been catching in the bullpen in recent days. On Monday,he ran in the outfield and had a lengthy session in the batting cages with hitting coach Joe Vavra. If he plays on Wednesday, it will probably be as a designated hitter.

Mauer has not played yet this spring because he's coming off of offseason left knee surgery. In recent weeks, he's been taking injections of Supartz, a lubricant, which should help him get through the season.

When he spoke to reporters on Saturday, Mauer said he's been able to use his lower body more when taking batting practice, an indication that his knee is better than it was during last season.

``He's feeling really good,'' Gardenhire said.

Will update with more news from camp later.


To satisfy heetcpa, the Twins beat Florida 9-0 at Hammond Stadium

As I pointed out in tomorrow's dead tree edition, I think Luke Hughes has played well enough to get the manager's attention.

Gardy, who once employed Nick Punto, suddenly threw out this job description for his utility player:

``I don’t ask the utility guys to be gold glovers or anything like that,’’ he said. ``I just ask them to be serviceable players who can go out there and make the routine play and get the routine outs. That’s what we’re looking at from all those guys.’’

He added that with Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka able to play shortstop, his utility player doesn't have to have SS as a tool in his toolbox. Interesting.   

Matt Tolbert is out of options. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I know from talking with Gardy over the last couple years that he believes Hughes can come off the bench and hit fastball, and he just might get that chance in April.

Gardy also mentioned:

That Justin Morneau is clamoring for more playing time but the doctors still want him to take his time getting back into playing everyday.

Both Joe Nathan and Matt Capps will get two-inning outings - and pitch in back-to-back games - before camp breaks.

With several pitchers now cut from camp,righthander Kyle Waldrop - who has thrown four innings - will get more chances to see what he can do.

Nishioka has a sore quad but should be OK.






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