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-Tigers: Mauer still "iffy" but Hicks and Parmelee have arrived

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 9, 2014 - 4:42 PM

The tarp is down and there's occasional drizzle. The threat of rain ends about 8 p.m. eastern, but people here believe we're going to get hit with a storm before then. So there's a chance that we won't start on time.

The rain kept the Twins from having an early workout, and also kept Joe Mauer from testing his back the way he wanted to. He hit indoors, though. Still, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer was, `iffy,' for being available tonight but is waiting to hear from the trainers before knowing for sure.

Mauer's back is getting better, but Gardy isn't sure if he'll have Mauer available to pinch hit today. And they might decide to be extra careful.

Gardenhire had raised the possibility of placing  Mauer on the disabled list as he works through his back pain. But Gardy noted today that the road trip is almost over and there's an offday tomorrow. If Mauer is close, he could sit out this series, take Monday off and then play on Tuesday against the Red Sox. Now that Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmelee are here, it's not as urgent to free up that spot on the roster. We'll see.

Hicks said he felt better three days into his stint on the concussion DL. I asked him if he's worried about rust or believes he has fresh hands. Hicks, of course, preferred to think he has fresh hands. Torii Hunter used to say that after missing a few games. `I got fresh hands!'' instead of worrying about the layoff.

Parmelee said he realized that he was being too passive at the plate and has been more aggressive, leading to a surge in his batting average at Class AAA Rochester. He played 22 games at first base and 9 in right field for the Red Wings, so he's ready for action at either position.

The pink bats have arrived for the Mother's Day game on Sunday. Chris Colabello, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Jason Kubel will use them on Sunday. Dozier and Plouffe are taking things to another level, with pink wrist bands and sunglasses. Plouffe has a pair of white shoes with pink trim he might wear Sunday.

Gardy has bunched Hicks, Santana and Dozier in sort of a speed grouping. But he's optimistic the bottom of the order will get on base and turn the lineup over.

Josh Willingham (left wrist) took today off but will go through a full batting practice on Saturday.

Twins (15-18)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Chris Colabello, 1B
Jason Kubel, LF
Eduardo Nunez, DH
Chris Parmelee, RF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Danny Santana, SS

Phil Hughes, RHP

Tigers (20-10)

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez. DH
Austin Jackson, CF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Austin Romine, SS
Rajai Davis, LF

Justin Verlander, RHP

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