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.

Opening Day; Luke Hughes starting; Nishioka updates coming

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 8, 2011 - 1:02 PM


I was a junior in high school in 1981, sitting in class one April when I was  summoned to the principal's office.

``What did I screw up now,'' I wondered to myself.

When I arrived at the office, my father sat there with a grim look on his face, ``There's an emergency at home and I need you with me,'' he said. ``I'll tell you about it in the car.''

I thought the house had burned down or something had happened to another family member. Once we got to the car, the old man handed me a pair of tickets to the White Sox home opener. ``Score!'' he said.

It was Carlton Fisk's first home game with the White Sox after leaving Boston. And No. 72 came to the plate in the fourth against Pete Vuckovich with the bases loaded and crushed a grand slam. The White Sox defeated Paul Molitor and the Brewers 9-3 that day. And I was there to see it.

Every Opening Day, I think about that day. Getting pulled out of school to go to a ballgame. Wow.

Today's opener starts at 3:00 p.m. It might be late enough for kids to get through with school and still make it down to the park with the parents. There's only one Opening Day in this town each year. If you have a chance to be a part of it, get involved.

Will check back later when lineups are released. Will also see if Luke Hughes is here.

Happy Opening Day, folks!

UPDATE: Luke Hughes is here and is in starting lineup.


The Twins should know more about Tsuyoshi Nishioka's recovery time following a 1 p.m. exam at Target Field. Nishioka suffered a fractured fibula on Thursday when Nick Swisher slid into him as he tried to turn a double play.

Michael Cuddyer is taking grounders at second base, just in case, but the plan is to go with Alexi Casilla at short and Luke Hughes at second with Matt Tolbert as the utility infielder.

"He was just getting his feet wet,'' Joe Mauer said of Nishioka getting used to his new club.

Mauer, by the way, likes the look of the new hitting background in center field but he said the real test will come later this afternoon, when the sun used to hit the wall and create a little glare issue for hitters.

Oakland (2-4)


1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Daric Barton, 1B
3. David DeJesus, RF
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Kurt Suzuki, C
7. Mark Ellis, 2B
8. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Pitching: Brett Anderson

Twins (2-4)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Luke Hughes, 2B
9. Alexi Casilla, SS

Pitching: Carl Pavano


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