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 quick Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Vargas, Mauer, Arcia

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: August 17, 2014 - 11:49 PM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 12-6 loss to Kansas City:


VARGAS IS IMPRESSIVE: Kennys Vargas is batting .317 with three homers and 15 RBI in his first 15 games in the majors. That's impressive for someone coming up from Class AA New Britain. I really liked his final at-bat, when he drove a double to right in the eighth. He took a couple pitches he could have chased after and got a pitch he could handle. He doesn't look overmatched. ``They ask me to be more
patient at the plate, see what they throw to Mauer and that's helped me a lot,'' Vargas said.  The Twins are taking it all in. ``He's chases a little bit and he's struck out,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``It's going to happen, but he's come up with some big hits and some big RBI. When he gets a hold of it - and he doesn't have to kill it - it still goes in the seats.''

SPEAKING OF MAUER: In his career, Joe Mauer is batting .436 when hitting the first pitch. That includes the home run he hit Sunday off JEREMY Guthrie in the third inning. That's fodder for those of you who think Mauer is too patient at the plate. I believe someone who's won multiple batting titles has the right to stick with his approach. But I will say that, in this particular season, it appears that he's been more aggressive early in the count. He's 12-for-23 (.522) when hitting the first pitch. Last year he was 8-for-15. In 2012, he was 12-for-26, then 0-for-5 (injuries) then 16-for-29. Then, in his MVP year of 2009, he was 9-for-19 when hitting the first pitch. It looks like he's going to hit the first pitch more this season than he has in recent years. Talking with him earlier in the season, he lamented how he was getting a lot of borderline pitches called strike three on him and that was making him stay out of those counts. This is evidence of that.

ARCIA: Just noticed that Oswaldo Arcia had played 164 games coming into Sunday - just over a full season. His numbers: .240 average, .304 on base percentage, 24 homers, 73 RBI and 198 strikeouts. You know what? For a 23 year old, that is something to work with. That is something worth working with.

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