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.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twins-Mets: Is the rotation settled?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 21, 2014 - 9:52 AM

Ricky Nolasco is on the mound today as the Twins take on the Mets.

But the Twins have announced their rotation through the 26th, making me think they have settled on a starting five. Kevin Correia, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson have been lined up behind Nolasco for a while now, but the Twins haven't scheduled it this far in advance.

We'll see what they have to say about this after the game.

Pedro Florimon is not in the lineup today - but he's not taking the day off, either.

Florimon is headed to the minor league fields to get four or five at-bats in one of the game down there. He's in a race to get his bat sharp before Opening Day, but he did show some life at the plate on Thursday when he hit a two-run single during a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay. Florimon, who made his spring debut on Tuesday after recording from appendicitis, is batting .125 this spring.

Aaron Hicks went 4-for-4 on Thursday and is now batting .375 this spring. Hicks has been working with Rod Carew a lot this spring. He did the same thing last year, but this time he appears to be applying Carew's teachings more. Batting .192 will make you a better pupil, I guess.

``We have been working on taking the ball back up the middle,'' Hicks said, ``And being aggressive in fastball counts. Not looking at strike three.''

Hicks looks stronger this season and easily is the most talented outfielder in camp.

``Hicks looks more mature this spring,'' Tony Oliva said. ``I think he's going to make it happen.''

Pitchers Virgil Vasquez and Adrian Salcedo are with the major league club as extras today.

The Twins begin a stretch in which they will play six of their last nine games at Hammond Stadium.

The Yankees are in town tomorrow. And Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound. Now I know why Japanese reporters last week in Tampa kept asking me how long the drive to Fort Myers is.


Juan Lagares, CF
Ruben Tejada, SS
Lucas Duda, DH
Ike Davis, DH
Andrew Brown, LF
Zach Lutz, 3B
Kirk Niewenhuis, RF
Taylor Teagarden, C
Omar Quintanila, 2B

Pitching: Dillon Gee, RHP


Brian Dozier, 2B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Wilkin Ramirez, LF
Chris Parmelee, 1B
Josmil Pinto, C
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Alex Presley, CF

Pitching: Ricky Nolasco, RHP



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