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 Twins offense

Twins trade Kendrys Morales to Mariners

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 24, 2014 - 1:53 PM

The Twins have traded Kendrys Morales to the Mariners for relief pitcher Stephen Pryor.

Pryor is a 25-year-old righthander who is recovering from surgery to repair a right latissimus dorsi muscle. He has pitched in 34 games for the Ms over the past three seasons, with 32 innings and 35 strikeouts. He is 2-1 with a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings this season at Class AAA Tacoma.

He will report to Rochester this week.

Morales was signed as a free agent by the Twins on June 8 and is hitting .234 with 11 doubles and one home run.

The Twins recalled infielder Jorge Polanco from Class A Ft. Myers to take Morales’ spot on the 25-man roster.

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

Twins' Mauer will move to first base

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: November 11, 2013 - 10:24 AM

The Twins announced this morning that catcher Joe Mauer will be a full-time catcher no more.

Mauer will move to first base next season, the team said.

There will be a conference call this afternoon with Mauer and Twins General Manager Terry Ryan to discuss the move.

Here is the Twins' news release:

The Minnesota Twins announced today that they will move All-Star catcher Joe Mauer from behind the plate to first base in 2014. After consultation with doctors from Mayo Clinic and team doctors, and given the inherent risks of future injury at the catcher position, the organization and Joe determined that it would be in the best interest of both him and the Twins for a position change.

The 2013 American League Silver Slugger batted .324 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 113 games last season, but suffered a concussion on a foul tip off his mask on August 19. He was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list on August 20 and did not return to action the remainder of the season.

Mauer is now symptom free from the concussion and beginning his regular off-season workouts with no restrictions. He has played 56 career games at first base committing just four errors in 536 total chances for a .993 fielding percentage. Mauer has caught in 920 games and earned three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at catcher (2008-10). He was named American League MVP while winning his third batting title in 2009 and has made six trips to the All-Star Game, four as the American League’s starting catcher.

Mauer will sit out remainder of Twins season

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 23, 2013 - 4:15 PM

The Twins said today catcher Joe Mauer would be sidelined the rest of the season because of concussion symptoms.  General manager Terry Ryan said Mauer continues to have sensitivity to light and noise.

Phil Miller is covering the game tonight and will have a full update shortly.

Twins place Justin Morneau on waivers

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: August 13, 2013 - 12:29 PM

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is on waivers today, a league source confirmed.

The move by the Twins was not unexpected, and the waivers are revocable, meaning if he is claimed by another team, the Twins could pull him back.

Also, if he is claimed during the two-day period, the Twins could work out a trade with the claiming team.

Or they could simply let him go. The team that gets him would be responsible for the remaining six weeks of his $14 million salary, which is about $3.2 million (players are paid over a six-month period).

Pittsburgh and the the Yankees are among playoff hopefuls who could use more production at first base.

If Morneau clears waivers, he can be traded to any team. The waiver period ends at noon tomorrow. Has he done enough in two weeks to persuade teams to put in a claim?

Morneau is hitting .262 with 14 home runs and 67 RBI. After batting .175 with 4 homers and 5 RBI in July, Morneau is batting .269 with 6 home runs and 14 RBI in August.

Outfielder Josh Willingham, according to the source, has not been placed on waivers yet. The Rangers reportedly had interest in him in recent weeks but have since traded for Alex Rios.

      

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