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.

Mauer takes grounders at first base

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 27, 2011 - 6:06 PM

As Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stood nearby, Joe Mauer took grounders at first base on Monday prior to the Twins-Dodgers game at Target Field.

Gardy would like to have Mauer learn another position to keep his bat in the lineup on the days he's not catching. With Justin Morneau out until August, first base will be available.

Mauer could also DH, but Jim Thome will likely fill that spot until other players return to health. Then again, will the Twins ever be fully healthy?

Mauer took a bunch of grounders and received some pointers from Gardy. The Twins are now in early b.p. phase.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is batting ninth tonight. Gardy spoke with Nishioka in Milwaukee to make sure his spirits remain up despite his hitting woes.

UPDATES: Mauer took grounders at first during early workouts and batting practice. Jason Kubel took some as well, and Gardenhire pointed out he needs options at first.

``Like I said, I haven't played there in 10 years,'' Mauer said. It's been awhile. I'm trying to learn the best I can that if the situation comes up then I'll be comfortable out there.''

Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) will be on a 50-pitch limit on Friday when he pitches for Class A Fort Myers,

Kubel (bruised left foot) will play for Fort Myers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then head for Class AA New Britain, where he will play in the three weekend games before being re-evaluated. He will continue to take grounders at first base but won't appear there during his rehabilitation stint.

``I'd like to see him get 25-30 at-bats,'' Gardenhire said.

The Twins are still waiting for results of an MRI exam of Delmon Young's right foot, which he injured on Saturday in Milwaukee. Young was able to slip his foot into a shoe and put a little weight on the foot, but he was moving pretty slowly.

Denard Span (concussion) is making progress but continues to feel fatigued at the end of the day like Justin Morneau did during his recovery from a concussion suffered last year.

Walked over to the Dodgers clubhouse. It was like Twins West, with Matt Guerrier, Casey Blake and Trent Oeltjen. Remember Oeltjen? He's a former Twins minor leaguer.

``I know pretty much all the guys over there,'' he said.

Oeltjen, I kept being told, is an outstanding bunter. So I expect him to lay one or two down this series.

Dodgers (35-44)

1. Tony Gwynn, Jr,, LF
2. Casey Blake, 3B
3. Andre Eithier, DH
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Juan Urbie, 2B
7. Trent Oeltjen, RF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Dee Gordon, SS

Pitching: RHP Chad Billingsley 

Twins (32-44)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Nishi, SS

Pitching: RHP Nick Blackburn


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