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-Marlins: Heading down the stretch

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 18, 2013 - 2:29 PM

Down the stretch they come. Game 23.

The Twins play the Marlins today at Hammond Stadium, but some officials will be down the street, watching Scott Diamond face hitters for the first time this season. Diamond will pitch in a minor league game as he rounds into form after having a bone chip removed from his elbow in December.

Diamond said his return will be right around Apr. 12, if all goes well. The Twins will need a fifth starter around Apr. 7.

Kevin Correia, 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA, is on the mound today against the Marlins. He looked shaky early but gave up just an earned run over 42/3 innings in his last outing.

Joe Mauer makes his first appearance since returning from the World Baseball Classic. When I saw him in the clubhouse this morning, I said, ``It's good to see you, but it's not good to see you.'' He replied: ``I know what you mean,'' Mauer, who has played on national teams since he was 16, wanted to win the title bad and already has indicated that he'll play in the next WBC.

Physically, Mauer said he feels great.

Mauer was originally scheduled to take the trip to Sarasota on Sunday but flip-flopped with Ryan Doumit. Mauer starts behind the plate today while Doumit gets today and tomorrow scheduled off day to relax.

Glen Perkins is back too, and is scheduled to pitch today. He only threw two innings for Team USA. so the coaching staff wants to get him plenty of work over the next few days.

Also scheduled to pitch: Brian Duensing, Alex Burnett, Luis Perdomo, Ryan Pressly and  Tim Wood.

The Twins still have six players away at the WBC. NED - Shairon Martis, Tom Suifbergen and Curt Smith. P.R. - Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario. DOM - Samuel Deduno. 

The Fighting Redmonds

1. Christian Yelich, LF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 1B
4. Austin Kearns, RF
5. Chris Valaika, 3B
6. Nick Green, SS
7. Matt Downs, DH
8. Kyle Skipworth, C
9. Gorkys Hernandez, CF

Pitching: Nathan Eovaldi, RHP

Twins

1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Jeff Clement, DH
7. Darin Mastroianni, RF
8. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Kevin Correia, sRHP

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