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: Strike zone, replay, Hicks

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 22, 2014 - 11:37 PM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' loss to the Rays

1. STRIKE ZONE JUDGMENT: Many believed that David Price received strike calls on pitches that were called balls when Kyle Gibson threw them. ``Some pretty close pitches that didn't go our way,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.  Gibson blamed himself, saying his mechanics were a bit off on Tuesday and when you're missing the plate you're not going to get the borderline calls. But don't underestimate the role the catcher plays here. Jose Molina, of the catching Molina brothers, is one of the best pitch-framers in the game. ``Molina was getting him a little bit extra,'' said former catcher Joe Mauer, ``and he was hitting his spots.''

2. REPLAY.....UGH. How do you look at the replay and still make the wrong decision? The fact that they missed the initial call on the ball believed to be foul was the first mistake, but replay was right there for them to use to correct the call, and they missed it. The league office already has acknowledged that there was a screw up. Made for a crazy fifth inning. There will be plenty of discussion at the end of the year about what worked and what didn't in the first year of expanded replay. It's here to stay but should also be tweaked.

3. HICKS. Some of you thought that Aaron Hicks was late getting to James Loney's two-run single in the first. The problem, Gardenhire said, was that Hicks was in the wrong position. Until he learns the hitters he needs to keep looking into the dugout to make sure he's in the right spot. Gardenhire said there were two times on Tuesday that Hicks was out of position.

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