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 afternoon update: Suzuki, Hughes, Buxton, Sano, Pinto, Florimon, Escobar

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 26, 2014 - 3:50 PM


Catcher Kurt Suzuki will be right in the middle of it all when the game starts at 9 a.m. at Hammond Stadium.

With Kevin Correia and Phil Hughes scheduled to throw, it will be an opportunity for Suzuki to build relationships with starting pitchers he'll work with during the regular season. He'll likely catch Hughes on Thursday.

``He's catching in that just because of that,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``He's gonna get to see them al throughout. With Hughesy going and Correia you'd like him to catch both sides and see them both but that's not going to happen, so he'll catch one and he'll get to see them all as we go along. We want him over there with Hughesy right now for sure.''

The group of players will be split up into two teams - Team Steinbach and Team Molitor. Not sure how they came up with those names.

Yes, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are scheduled to play in the game. So will Kennys Vargas, Max Kepler, Danny Santana and other interesting players in camp.

SANTANA UPDATE

It looks like the Twins will continue to monitor Johan Santana's comeback from a second shoulder surgery,

The Twins had three scouts on hand Tuesday to watch Santana's throwing sessions. Seven teams in all witnessed the outing, and one report had Santana topping out at 81 miles an hour and throwing several pitches under 80.

Velocity is always down following shoulder surgery and the Twins knew Santana had a long way to go. The Twins are expected to remain in touch with Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg.

HEALTH REPORT

Catcher Josmil Pinto (sore back) said he went through all the drills on Wednesday and felt good.

Shortstop Pedro Florimon, out for 10 days following surgery to remove an inflamed appendix, rode a bike in the trainer's room on Wednesday and was headed for an afternoon doctor's appointment for a checkup.

RIBBON CUTTING

If you want to see Twins president Dave St. Peter wield a large pair of scissors, get to Hammond Stadium at noon (EST) on Saturday, when the official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place to mark the opening of the new boardwalk. It will also mark the end of Phase I of the Two-phased, $48.5 million renovation project.

ETC.

It was bound to happen. A Twins player crushed a long drive during batting practice that struck a construction worker along the new boardwalk in the remodeled stadium. The ball hit off the scoreboard, dropped and struck the worker in the leg. Miguel Sano was part of the group hitting at the time but wasn't at the plate at the time. Kennys Vargas, who has hit some long home runs during camp, was part of the group but not in the batter's box at the time. No, the culprit was Eduardo Escobar, who is listed at 5-feet-10 inches and 175 pounds.

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