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.

Posts about Ron Gardenhire

Pitcher Swarzak ready for first season start

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 23, 2014 - 11:15 AM
BY MEGAN RYAN
 
Right-handed pitcher Anthony Swarzak will make his first start of the season this afternoon in the final installment of a three-game home series against the Cleveland Indians.
 
Swarzak learned of his first start since Oct. 2, 2012, last night after the game when Kyle Gibson scratched because of a lower-back injury. 
 
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he wasn’t too concerned about the quick turnaround for Swarzak.
 
“You take those relievers, and they’re kind of ready for just about anything you throw at them,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been around for a long time.”
 
Gardenhire said the biggest adjustment for his starting pitcher would just be warm-up time, as the reliever is used to quicker warmups and would need to endure the longer warmup without wearing himself out.
 
Swarzak is expected to last four or five innings with about 60 pitches, while Deduno, Fien and closer Perkins will finish out the game, if all goes to Gardenhire’s plan.
 
Here are the complete lineups for today’s 12:10 p.m. start:
 
INDIANS
Kipnis 2B
Ramirez SS
Brantley CF
Santana 1B
Chisenhall 3B
Swisher DH
Murphy RF
Perez C
Dickerson LF
 
Bauer-RHP
 
TWINS
Twins
Fuld LF
Dozier 2B
Plouffe 3B
Morales DH
Colabello 1B
Arcia RF
Nunez SS
Fryer C
Santana CF
 
Swarzak RHP

Santana left out of lineup, working on mechanics

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 20, 2014 - 12:01 PM
Rookie Danny Santana won’t be in the lineup today in the final installment of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Target Field.
 
The centerfielder went on the disabled list June 27 because of a knee injury but returned Friday. He’s struggled in his first outings, including striking out four times in four at bats in last night’s 5-1 loss.
 
Manager Ron Gardenhire said Santana will be in the batting cage working on some mechanical fixes instead.
 
This is intern Megan Ryan, by the way, hijacking LaVelle’s blog.
 
Another thing to look for tonight is a Twins loss – because if they do fail to take one from the series, it will be Gardy’s 1,000th career loss. But the longtime manager isn’t too concerned.
 
“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re going to win the rest of our games.”
 
The Twins managed five groundball double plays last night, and while Gardenhire was impressed by the play of Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, he said there was a downside as well.
 
“There’s the old saying that if you lead the league in double plays, that means you have a lot of people on base, which is not good for your pitch staff,” he said. “But at least we’re getting ground balls and getting out of them.”
 
Here are the lineups for today’s 1:10 p.m. start:
 
RAYS
Jennings CF
Zobrist 2B
Joyce LF
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Guyer DH
Escobar SS
Casali C
Kiermaier RF
 
Archer SP
 
TWINS
Dozier 2B
Nunez 3B
Plouffe DH
Morales 1B
Arcia RF
Willingham LF
Escobar SS
Fryer C
Fuld CF
 
Correia SP

Twins pregame: Hicks out of the starting lineup again; Deduno will try to give hitters a chance

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 29, 2014 - 12:05 PM

By AMELIA RAYNO, Star Tribune

With the Twins' hitting struggles well-documented and imminently visible after a 1-0 loss to Texas on Wednesday night, the pitching rotation is operating under a microscope of sorts.

The starter, on any given day, needs to be dang near perfect to hold a shot at getting the win, it seems.

"It all goes to our starters," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They give you a chance. And we had chances last night, we had plenty of chances to score. But it has to continue for you to be successful. These guys have to continue getting us deep into games."

Last night, Kyle Gibson was the hard-luck loser despite allowing just six hits and no earned runs. His team couldn't bail him out on the bases.

Now, right-hander Sam Deduno can only hope to do the same but with better results in order to ease Minnesota out of its five-losses-in-six-games funk. The Dominican Republic native has steadily improved with each outing, keeping hitters off-balance with his bizarre, slow-rotating, quick-sinking fastball, building a 3.96 ERA and adjusting nicely to life back in the starting rotation after starting out the year in the bullpen. 

"Over all my years of being here, to me he's the most improved," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "From day one when he was here, we were hoping he'd throw it in the area. Just no consistency with anything. But the more he's worked, he's finding consistency in the delivery. And now look, he's all over the strike zone."

There will be an extra focus today in keeping the speedy Rangers runners off the base paths, particularly with Josmil Pinto, who hasn't played since May 24, behind the plate. Throwing out potential base thieves hasn't been a strength for Pinto, who has a slow-than-average release, Gardenhire said. And Texas manager Ron Washington isn't shy in sending his players. Armed with quick options like Alex Rios (10 steals), Leonys Martin (11) and Elvis Andrus (13), the Rangers are quick off the bag. As a team, Texas has been caught 23 times, but especially with Pinto in the game, they won't be afraid to take chances.

"You can't give them free passes because [Washington] has them being very aggressive," Gardenhire said. "They don't have all their hitters in there and he's got these kids running."

** Gardenhire said centerfielder Aaron Hicks, who missed yesterday's game due to back spasms, told him this morning he was ready to play if needed, but the manager elected to hold him out of the starting lineup. He was listed as available. "We'll see how he's doing late game, once he starts really moving around," Gardenhire said.

**Danny Santana will start in center field for the second consecutive game and the sixth appearance of his major league career. The shortstop did play the position in 23 games in the minors.

"I feel a little comfortable there," he said. "Not like at shortstop, but I feel a little comfortable."

Said Gardenhire: "We'll see how he does out there today. Day game. Sun. Entertainment value."

Texas:

Shin-Soo Choo, DH
Luis Sardinas, SS
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Michael Choice, LF
Leonys Martin, CF
Robinson Chirinos, C
Rougned Odor, 2B

RHP: Nick Martinez

Twins:

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Josh Willingham, DH
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Danny Santana, CF

RHP: Sam Deduno

-- AMELIA RAYNO

Twins pregame: Hicks out of the starting lineup again; Deduno will try to give hitters a chance

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 29, 2014 - 12:02 PM

With the Twins' hitting struggles well-documented and imminently visible after a 1-0 loss to Texas on Wednesday night, the pitching rotation is operating under a microscope of sorts.

The starter, on any given day, needs to be dang near perfect to hold a shot at getting the win, it seems.

"It all goes to our starters," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They give you a chance. And we had chances last night, we had plenty of chances to score. But it has to continue for you to be successful. These guys have to continue getting us deep into games."

Last night, Kyle Gibson was the hard-luck loser despite allowing just six hits and no earned runs. His team couldn't bail him out on the bases.

Now, right-hander Sam Deduno can only hope to do the same but with better results in order to ease Minnesota out of its five-losses-in-six-games funk. The Dominican Republic native has steadily improved with each outing, keeping hitters off-balance with his bizarre, slow-rotating, quick-sinking fastball, building a 3.96 ERA and adjusting nicely to life back in the starting rotation after starting out the year in the bullpen. 

"Over all my years of being here, to me he's the most improved," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "From day one when he was here, we were hoping he'd throw it in the area. Just no consistency with anything. But the more he's worked, he's finding consistency in the delivery. And now look, he's all over the strike zone."

There will be an extra focus today in keeping the speedy Rangers runners off the base paths, particularly with Josmil Pinto, who hasn't played since May 24, behind the plate. Throwing out potential base thieves hasn't been a strength for Pinto, who has a slow-than-average release, Gardenhire said. And Texas manager Ron Washington isn't shy in sending his players. Armed with quick options like Alex Rios (10 steals), Leonys Martin (11) and Elvis Andrus (13), the Rangers are quick off the bag. As a team, Texas has been caught 23 times, but especially with Pinto in the game, they won't be afraid to take chances.

"You can't give them free passes because [Washington] has them being very aggressive," Gardenhire said. "They don't have all their hitters in there and he's got these kids running."

** Gardenhire said centerfielder Aaron Hicks, who missed yesterday's game due to back spasms, told him this morning he was ready to play if needed, but the manager elected to hold him out of the starting lineup. He was listed as available. "We'll see how he's doing late game, once he starts really moving around," Gardenhire said.

**Danny Santana will start in center field for the second consecutive game and the sixth appearance of his major league career. The shortstop did play the position in 23 games in the minors.

"I feel a little comfortable there," he said. "Not like at shortstop, but I feel a little comfortable."

Said Gardenhire: "We'll see how he does out there today. Day game. Sun. Entertainment value."

Texas:

Shin-Soo Choo, DH
Luis Sardinas, SS
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Michael Choice, LF
Leonys Martin, CF
Robinson Chirinos, C
Rougned Odor, 2B

RHP: Nick Martinez

Twins:

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Josh Willingham, DH
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Danny Santana, CF

RHP: Sam Deduno

      

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