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.

Tuesday's heroes back in lineup

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Vikings draft Updated: July 27, 2011 - 5:11 PM

Jim Thome and Joe Mauer - who each had pinch hit double on Tuesday - are back in the starting lineup today.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Twins pinch hitters were only 8 for 47 (.170) with one extra-base hit this season, before Tuesday and they hadn't had more than one hit in any game, let alone one inning. Mauer had been hitless in his last 11 at-bats as a pinch hitter before Tuesday.

Thome might be licking his chops tonight as Colby Lewis takes the ball for the Rangers. Lewis hasn't done well against the Twins, and Thome is 6-for-8 with three homers against him. Eight at-bats isn't a large sample size, but the three homers stand out.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX continues to report that the Nationals are pursuing the Twins' Denard Span. I've been told by a source the Twins are not shopping their leadoff hitter, and it's hard for me to believe that they would move Span, who is under control through 2015. Rosenthal suggests that closer Drew Storen could be part of a potential deal. The Twins were eyeing Storen before the draft a couple years ago, but the Nats selected him with an earlier pick.

I also was told that the Nationals, in need of a long-term answer in center, were evaluating Ben Revere and CF's in the Twins' farm system too.

My view is that Span shouldn't be moved unless its for a lot in return, more than Storen. The Twins don't have another leadoff hitter. Span also is a good outfielder and a good citizen.

Bert Blyleven has rejoined FSN after his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And he's throwing out the first pitch tonight. He is a former Ranger, after all.

Oh my, they are playing Barry White over the stadium sound system right now.... 

UPDATE: Other than Alex Burnett, the rest of the Twins' bullpen is available tonight.

Denard Span is back in the lineup tonight for Class AAA Rochester after taking a couple days off. Span will play at least seven and maybe nine innings,if he's up to it.

Justin Morneau's migraines kept him at home today.

Blyleven showed off his Hall of Fame ring to Gardenhire. In addition to throwing out the first pitch tonight, he'll also throw out the first pitch before one of the games in Anaheim next week. 

Twins (48-55)

1. Ben Revere CF
2. Alexi Casilla 2B
3. Joe Mauer C
4. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
5. Jason Kubel RF
6. Jim Thome DH
7. Danny Valencia 3B
8. Delmon Young LF
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka SS

Pitching: Brian Duensing, LHP

Rangers (59-45)

 1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, LF
4. Michael Young, 3B
5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Mitch Moreland, DH
8. Yorvit Torrealba, C
9. Endy Chavez, CF

Pitching: Colby Lewis, LHP

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