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 Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Correia, Hicks, Arcia and BONUS Mauer

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 16, 2013 - 10:39 AM

Here are three things on my mind following the Twins' 8-2 victory over the Los Angels Pujols of Troutheim:

1. CORREIA CRUISING: The Twins believe that Kevin Correia can give them 180 solid innings this year and, hopefully, next year. At $5 million a season, they view that as a bargain. This logic was hard to swallow, given Correia being ground ball intensive and coming over from the National League. But he pitches inside and outside and has stayed out of big trouble. It;s working now, and the Twins look like have made a sold investment. We'll check back in 30 more starts. ``It's always important for your starter to go out there and give you a chance,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Correia. ``He works fast. He gets the ball and throws it and doesn't screw around.'' Three starts, all at least seven innings.

2. HICKS STICKS: The clubhouse was closed for longer than normal after the game. We sensed a roster move. We wondered if it was going to be Aaron Hicks. No, it wasn't. The Twins remain committed to giving Hicks more time to figure things out. Hicks entered the game as a late-inning defensive replacement, walked, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single. ``That's the guy we saw all spring training,'' Gardy said. He added that they might not bat Hicks in the leadoff spot, which might help him relax. Gardy was asked how much better off Hicks would be if he figures things out up here instead of in Rochester. ``There's been lots of players who have had to go down to the minors. Our preference if for him to get going up here and let's quit worrying about it. There's issues, we've seen it. And we're trying to straighten them out now. Talking with (hitting coach Tom) Brunansky, he wants to work with this kid. He had him out there today early and did some things with him and believes he can get him right. You know what? I'm with Tom. We'll see what happens.''

3. ARCIA'S ONE-GAME CAREER: Arcia didn't mess around. He saw a pitch he liked, and he went after it. He ripped a Joe Blanton pitch to right for a single in his first at-bat, flew out to center in his second at bat then hit a slider off a lefty to the warning track in left-center in his third at bat. He saw a total of six pitches. ``It's fun to watch him walk up to the plate,'' Gardy said. ``He will get plenty of opportunities if he keeps doing what he's doing in the minors.'' I'll give him a mulligan on the dropped fly ball. First game. Was supposed to DH but moved to the outfield when Willingham showed up sick. One workout ever at Target Field. Arcia, 21, handled the questions well after the game, with the help of an translator. After we were done, he ripped off a long sentence in Spanish. We were like, ``What did he say,'' Translator: ``You guys need to learn Spanish.'' We laughed.

3A. MAUER LOCKED IN: Joe Mauer looked ready to mash in his first at bat when he hit a double off the wall in right-center. That's right, he pulled the ball a little. Two at-bats later, he homered to left. He had four hits on the day, his average rising from .298 to .346. The counts on when Mauer got his hits: 2-2 (double), 0-1 (homer), 0-2 (single), 0-2 (single). ``One of the best hitters I've ever seen with two strikes,'' Gardy said. ``It's incredible how he can go deep into a count and never panic, never have any fear, have a nice swing and barrel it just about every time.''

 

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