Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Anthony Barr, Jerick McKinnon visit Target Field

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings Updated: June 23, 2014 - 7:42 AM

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and running back Jerick McKinnon paid a visit to Target Field on Saturday.

Both participated in a home run derby with Twins mascot, T.C., and Barr threw out the first pitch.

“I’ve never really caught a ball in this type of distance in front of you,” said Barr, who didn’t play baseball growing up but went to a handful of Dodgers games.

They got a chance before the game to talk to Tony Oliva, who has his No. 6 retired by the Twins and now serves as a personal assistant/ambassador.

Barr didn’t want to practice, stating, “I’m a natural athlete, and I’ll let the ability take over.” But the Vikings won’t have to worry about MLB teams drafting him anytime soon. He struggled to locate the ball while playing catch, went 0-for-7 during the home run derby (whiffing on a few underhand softball tosses) and lobbed in the first pitch standing in front of the mound.

McKinnon, who was a late addition to the pregame festivites (that's why he doesn't have his name and number on the back of his jersey), ended up tying T.C. with two home runs. The running back launched two softballs into the upper deck in left center field from the center field grass.

Before the event, Barr said he had more home run power than McKinnon, who responded, “I’m not even going to acknowledge his comments. …I have a little bit [of experience] and will make him feel bad when it comes that time. But right now I’m focused on my gameplan for winning the home run derby.

“I’m not even worried about [T.C.] either.”

The two will head to Aurora, Ohio for the Rookie Symposium on Sunday and will last all week. Barr plans to return to California and McKinnon to Georgia over the next month until they report to training camp on July 24.

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