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.

Twins center field battle, Morneau, Thome, Meyer, Berrios, Gibson

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 1, 2013 - 8:28 AM

Phil Miller (Mr. 6-4-3) is making that scenic drive across Florida (bleeck) to Jupiter, where the Twins will face the Florida Marlins in exhibition action. While you wait for Phil to provide pre-game updates, here something to help your coffee go down.

VETS ARE SWINGING IT

The Twins veterans are swinging the bats very well in camp. And they'll have to continue to do so if they want to have a winning season (I know. Vegas has their over/under at 64.5 wins, but it's hard to win fewer games than that).

CF WIDE OPEN

All three starting centerfielder candidates have had more positive than negative moments. I'm really impressed that Aaron Hicks looks like he belongs right now. Joe Benson has blasted a long home run, which we know he can do. He also has over-swung terribly at other times, which we know he can do. And Darin Mastroianni has squared up a few pitches nicely.

Let's see how this plays out. You would be amazed how a young player looks around the final week of camp, realizes that he's still in camp and tightens up.

CANADIAN CLUB?

One more note about a veteran: Scouts are spreading the word down here that Justin Morneau looks fantastic and might be ready to produce a big season.

JIM THOME

I know there's a report out there refuting my report earlier this week about the Twins showing interest in Jim Thome. I'm not backing off. There were talks. And I asked someone if talks could heat up again and was told it was up to Thome. That indicates that the earlier report about Thome wanting a guaranteed roster spot might be spot on.

YOUNG PITCHERS IMPRESS

On Thursday, the Twins lost 4-0 in a B Game at Boston. The highlights belonged to righthanders Alex Meyer and Jose Berrios, who each threw two scoreless innings,

Meyer gave up one hit but was dominant in his outing. I didn't realize how dominant until I spoke with a couple people who were at the game and were very impressed. Meyer topped out at 95 miles an hour on the gun and threw an unhittable slider. He was nasty. Keep in mind that the Red Sox threw together a team of mostly minor leaguers who have been coming to park every day because they have nothing better to do. And that Meyer was a little wild in his previous outings. He was much more composed on Thursday and was able to show his talents.

Red Sox officials were very impressed with Meyer. A little background here. Boston drafted Meyer in the 20th round in 2008, but Meyer, a Scott Boras client, decided to go attend Kentucky. Red Sox GM Ben Cherrington actually was seen chatting up Meyer's father during the game on Thursday.

Meyer's dad then stopped me in the parking lot after the game to tell me he's reading every thing we're putting online. That reminds me..... It seems like more relatives of players are tracking us on twitter these days. In fact, regardless if you are a relative of a player or not, what is holding you back from joining the twitter movement? Follow me at @LaVelleNeal and Phil at @MillerStrib. 1. You won't be sorry. 2.  You will help me catch Dan Barreio in twitter followers. I refuse to play second fiddle to him.

If you would have been on twitter Wednesday night, when news of the Mauer twins broke, you would have been very entertained.

Back to ball. Jose Berrios retired all six batters he faced on Thursday. I can't believe he's just 18. His stuff is live and he goes after people. I hope he can start the season at Class A Cedar Rapids with a chance to reach Fort Myers by the end of the year. Hope he gets decent mound time during the World Baseball Classic.

FINALLY....

I'll be back on coverage tomorrow when the Twins play host to Boston. Kyle Gibson is scheduled to start. I reported earlier this week that one scout clocked his fastball at 95 mph. I talked to another last night who had Gibson at 92-96 that day. I'm eager to see how the Twins play this hand. Gibson could make their decision very tough on them.

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