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: Walters, Morneau, the Sano-Rosario express

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 12, 2013 - 12:02 AM

Here are three Twins' thoughts following their win over the Phillies on Tuesday:


1. WALTERS ROCKS: P.J. Walters isn't an ace-like in dominance. But he's doing everything to stabilize the Twins' rotation as he's 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts since being called up from Class AAA Rochester. Walters doesn't have overpowering stuff but is a pretty smart pitcher. The Phillies offense in 10th in drawing walks, so Walters knew they would be an agressive hitting team. He changed speeds and stayed one step ahead of them all night. ``You have to get strike one to do that,'' Walters said of facing teams like the Phillies. He threw 17 of 29 first-pitch strikes - there have been percentages but it was enough for him to pitch into the eighth on Tuesday. He curveball was very sharp.

2. MORNEAU'S LACK OF POWER: At the beginning of the season, I was asked to predict Justin Morneau's home run total. I thought he would hit 25. Someone said that seemed low. I didn't think that was a bad total at all. Morneau was a good hitter in the minors before he realized he could be a good power hitter. I thought that he could fall back on that foundation and still be a good run producer despite not hitting 30 home runs. I didn't think the man would have just TWO home runs at this point of the season. But my premise remains the same. If Morneau remembers that he's a good hitter, he can drive in runs on this team. And sometimes when you don't try to hit home runs is when you start to hit home runs.

3. THE FUTURE: This really has little to do with tonight's game. But Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario are now at Class AA New Britain. If they do well during the second half of the season, then they are threats to have an impact on the 2014 Twins. That means Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier need to take advantage of the present or risk getting run over by the future. Plouffe has to return from his rehab stint at Rochester with a hot bat. He has present and future challenges to his job because Deibinson Romero is playing well at Rochester (Terry Ryan did say today that Romero still isn't in full game shape yet) in addition to Sano at New Britain. Dozier's defense has been above average this season, but he needs to produce more at the plate. And he made a poor baserunning play in the fourth inning Tuesday when he slowed down on a grounder to second and thus made himself an easy runner to tag out and start a double play.  Now that Sano and Rosario are at New Britain, stuff is about to get real.

 

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