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.

Postgame: Thoughts on Johnson, obliques and rotation

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 22, 2014 - 12:05 AM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' win over Cleveland.

1. GOOD FOR TWINS, CRUMMY FOR JOHNSON: I'm a little strange. I like that players get the ball for milestone hits and wins. And teams give a left-handed toast to managers for milestone wins. Why? This game pretty hard to play. Doing anything for the first time is cool. Doinghit 500 times? 1,000? More? That seems pretty special. So it was too bad for lefthander Kris Johnson, who left the game with a 3-2 lead in the fifth and was set up for his first win. But Casey Fien couldn't get out of the eighth untouched, a blemish on what has been a strong season for him. Johnson pointed out that the important thing was that the Twins got a win they needed in the end. Hopefully he'll get another chance. At 29, you never know when the next opportunity will come.

2. A CORRECTION: I think I stated in the pregame blog that most players I've covered have needed about a month to return from an oblique strain (re: No. 7). I decided to look that up, and I was mistaken. Let's head back to 2011, the year of the great oblique outbreak. It was the last time any Twins player had the injury. Delmon Young and Jim Thome both missed 19 games, Glen Perkins missed 23 games, Tsuyoshi Nishioka missed 15 games and Brian Duensing missed only10 games. Mauer on Monday missed his 16th game, but that doesn't include the four-day All-Star break. So this one already is worse than most of the others. And Mauer hasn't started hitting yet. I'm glad I looked that up.

3. PINO THURSDAY, DARNELL ON SATURDAY? I'm hearing that Logan Darnell could be called up to start on Saturday, the next time the Twins need a fill-in starter. Darnell is in line to start on Friday, so it looks as if he would get an extra day of rest if he ends up being the choice. Alex Meyer is pitching on Wednesday, and would gave to be juggled. Plus, Meyer's work load could make it hard for him to join the rotation. May has a much better chance to debut this season, but he needs three more starts, at least. to build up his arm strength after missing nearly a month because of a calf strain. I know it's not what the masses want to read right now, but I'm just a courier.

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