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: Hicks, Roenicke, Hicks, Morneau, Hicks, Hernandez

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 14, 2013 - 12:13 AM

 

1. MORE AARON HICKS: Teammates have not forgotten how Aaron Hicks looked in spring training: ``We saw what he can do in spring, offensively and defensively,'' reliever Josh Roenicke said. ``He had that swag to him and self-confidence. It's tough to keep that when you are struggling a little bit.'' They hope Hicks has it back now as his 2-for-3 night raised his batting average to .154. Hicks even drew a walk in his final at-bat, remaining composed instead of trying to jack a third home run. And the catch? Of course, it reminded everyone of catches made by Kirby, Torii, Denard and Ben. ``That catch is going to rank right up there,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, ``especially the moment he caught the ball. It was a big moment and a big play.''

1A. MORE ON THE CATCH: Roenicke threw the pitch to Dunn and thought it was happening all over again. Dunn homered off of Roenicke on Apr. 21 in Chicago - to left-center field. So Roenicke was in Flashback City.``It was identical to the last time I faced Dunn,'' Roenicke said. ``I tend to throw it right into his bat path.'' Justin Morneau said he thought the ball was gone, based on Dunn's demeanor when he started running out of the batter's box. Then he looked out at Hicks. ``I saw him jump and there was a pause that everyone in the ballpark had - that they weren't sure if he had it or not,'' Morneau said, ``and he jumped up with a smile on his face. That was cool.''

2. PEDRO HERNANDEZ: After a 33-pitch first inning, Pedro Hernandez seemed on his way to an early exit. But he gave the Twins  5.1 mostly decent innings. ``In the first inning I wasn't hitting my spots and after that I tried to locate my pitches and throw down low.'' It worked, and Hernandez ended the third inning with 53 pitches while White Sox starter Hector Santiago was at 73 pitches (the Twins started working him for long at-bats). Hernandez improved to 2-0 and muted some of the calls from fans to replace him with Kyle Gibson.

3. WHITE SOX: Their starting pitching hasn't been too shabby, even without Gavin Floyd and John Danks. But the White Sox look like they will struggle to get out of the AL Central basement. They aren't scoring runs. They don't have any team speed to manufacture runs. Paul Konerko is not hitting. They don't work counts. Jeff Keppinger has zero walks in 126 at-bats. The South Siders look to be set up for a long, long summer.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: If you want to talk about this game, I'm filling in for Paul Allen tomorrow on KFAN from 9 to Noon. We'll talk Twins, the Vikes stadium design, the baseball draft, and more. Bert Blyleven is in from 11-Noon.

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