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.

Three postgame thoughts from LEN3: Marquis, Mauer, Willingham

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 29, 2012 - 8:10 PM

Here are three quick thoughts following the Twins' 7-4 win over the Royals on Sunday:

1, Marquis goes six. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't mess around with reliever Jason Marquis this time, removing him after six innings and 80 pitches. The last time Marquis was on the mound here, Gardy let him pitch the seventh inning last Monday against Boston and the Twins lost the game. Marquis notched the Twins' fourth quality start of the season thanks to his trusty sinker. It looks like the Twins' bullpen will be reliable this year, so there's no reason to push Marquis deeper into games unless he's dominating.

2. Will Mauer play on Monday? Brayan Pena's foul tip nailed Joe Mauer on the inside of his left knee in the ninth inning, and Mauer looked like he was in pain. Mauer finished the game but said he was pretty sore after the game. Mauer crushes at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, so my guess is that he'll do everything he can to play tomorrow. But he might miss his first game of the year.

3. Willing-hammer. The Hammer returned to the Twins lineup with authority on Sunday as he was a homer short of the cycle. He's just isn't missing when he gets a pitch to hit, and it's a beautiful thing to watch a hitter square up pitches every day. I've covered two players who were/are nicknamed "The Hammer". Bob Hamelin was the other. This Hammer is in a little better shape.



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