Staff Directory 10645506

La Velle E. Neal III

Reporter | Minnesota Twins
Phone: 612.674.4888
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

La Velle E. Neal III is a baseball writer for the Star Tribune. He has over 20 years of experience covering the Minnesota Twins on and off the field. La Velle has helped out with basketball, football and college football coverage between baseball seasons.

A native of Chicago, La Velle has covered the Minnesota Twins since 1998. He also covered the Kansas City Royals for the Kansas City Star from 1995 through 1997. A graduate of the University of Illinois - Chicago, La Velle is a former president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Recent content from La Velle E. Neal III
Alex Kirilloff, working out during spring training in February in Fort Myers, Fla., is one of the Twins’ top minor league prospects.

Twins won't cut minor league players, will pay them for full season

The Twins will pay their minor league players through August, and won't release any of those players as other major league teams have done.
The clock is ticking faster for some players more than others, like Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who will turn 40 on July 1. July 4th weekend

Play ball? Baseball sorely needs to find some answers this week

There are two things members of this $10.7 billion baseball industry should keep in mind if they really want to reach agreement on starting the season — the calendar and their bank accounts.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, center, talked with General Manager Thad Levine, left, and President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey during spring t

Twins' preparations kick into higher gear despite baseball's uncertainties

The Twins have told employees they will be paid in full through June and there will be no furloughs, so clearly the team is optimistic about baseball's resumption.
Nelson Cruz joked with teammates during batting practice at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 16.

Nelson Cruz among finalists for ESPY sports humanitarian award

Maya Moore and Kevin Love are also candidates for the Muhammad Ali Award, which will be presented next month.
The reaction to over $1 million a year: All smiles from the Twins’ Kent Hrbek, right, and his agent Ron Simon.

Twins' Hrbek was first local pro athlete to make $1 million per season

The first baseman, who grew up near the Twins' original home of Met Stadium in Bloomington, signed for five years, $5.9 million before 1985.
The St. Paul skyline is visible from beyond CHS Field

A light rail call-up? Twins-Saints affiliation possible, but there are hurdles

The promotional advantages of a Twins-Saints collaboration are endless. But it's not that simple. Several factors stand in the way, including a $20 million financial obstacle for the Saints.
Eric Fox’s rookie season with Oakland included getting tagged out at home in the 1992 ALCS vs. Toronto. Fox helped the A’s win the AL West with hi

After winning World Series, Twins crashed hard after nightmare homer

Two years and three months from now will mark the 30th anniversary of an event in Twins history that will be celebrated by absolutely no one.
The Twins are committed to giving full pay and providing full benefits to its non-playing staff through May 31, a club official confirmed Monday, even

Twins say they will continue to pay nonplaying staff through May

Commissioner Rob Manfred had given clubs the option to furlough or reduce pay of club employees, with no games being played thus far during the coronavirus pandemic.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver, above at Hammond Stadium in mid-February in Fort Myers, Fla., is working out these days in the Twin Cities with teammate M

Twins catcher Garver moves to Twin Cities to stay sharp

In addition to getting swings in at Joe Mauer's facility, Mitch Garver went to a local Target to purchase kettle weights and other gear so he can use the time off from baseball games wisely.
Trevor Larnach was the Twins’ first-round pick in 2018.

No spring baseball means no late bloomers for Twins in draft

You don't have to look far back into Twins' draft history to find players who were drafted mainly on the basis of how well they played in the months leading up to the MLB draft.
Target Field, the Twins and their fans are ready. But Thursday’s home opener will come and go without a game while the world continues to battle the

There should have been a ballgame: Home opener is latest missing milestone

Thursday was to begin at 6 a.m. with breakfast on the Target Field plaza. Gates were to open at 1 p.m. A flyover was, once again, scheduled as part of the pageantry that won't be happening.
A worker in protective gear disinfected Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul against the coronavirus. Teams in South Korea could start playing games as soon as l

Twins scout stuck in South Korea, but country's teams could play soon

David Kim, a Twins Pacific Rim scout, could be watching his first ballgame within a month.
Twins star Nelson Cruz has departed Fort Myers and returned to his home in the Dominican Republic, where the 39-year-old says he hasn’t been at this

Cruz, Rogers try to get 'comfortable with the uncomfortable'

Some Twins players headed for the Twin Cities, but Nelson Cruz and Taylor Rogers were among those going to their year-round homes to wait for the OK to ramp up their activities.
Infielder Royce Lewis remains the Twins’ top prospect despite a difficult 2019 season.

Top Twins prospects: These 10 minor leaguers give fans reason to smile

A two-month delay — at least — is in place before the baseball season starts. When it does, the Twins minor league system has a batch of potential future stars for fans to follow.
Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to be a fiery personality in the clubhouse, and he was offering hitting tips to young players before sp

Nine things we learned from the Twins' short spring training

It may feel like long ago when the Twins played the last of their 20 spring training games. But there were things learned for when the team is finally able to reassemble and chase the hopes it brought to Florida.
Gates are locked at Minnesota Twins' Hammond Stadium, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. Major League Baseball has suspended the rest of its

Twins officials leave Florida as baseball figures out what's ahead

Twins officials left Fort Myers and headed back to Minnesota on Monday. Players are also free to head home now that training camps have been closed.
Twins reliever Sergio Romo flashed his familiar smile as he stopped to say goodbye to Hammond Stadium parking operations worker Bill Fear on his way o

Twins part ways with season on hold

Only about 20 players plan to stay in Fort Myers.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver talks on his phone in an empty Hammond Stadium on Thursday in Fort Myers. Major League Baseball has suspended the rest of i

Spring training off, season delayed but Twins still in Fort Myers - for now

The spread of the coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 is shutting down American sports, and Major League Baseball on Thursday joined the parade, shutting down for at least the next month.
One of the Twins' roster cuts Monday was lefthander Lewis Thorpe, who entered camp in the running for one of the starting spots. He missed nine days t

Lefthander Thorpe among Twins' first spring cuts

The Twins trimmed their spring training roster Monday by optioning seven players to minor-league camp and placing Fernando Romero on the restricted list.
Nick Gordon, embracing Royce Lewis last month, has battled health problems that have slowed his development with the Twins.

Twins prospect Gordon slowed by health issues

Infielder Nick Gordon (left, with Royce Lewis) is seeking to regain top-prospect status with the club.
Miguel Sano at the Twins’ spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Twins players from Dominican Republic eager for Saturday's 'home' game

With a number of players from the Dominican Republic expected to be on the field for both the Twins and Detroit, the game will be one of the events of the year in the country.
The Twins' Miguel Sano is getting better acquainted with playing first base in spring training, after spending most of his time at third base last sea

Twins' Sano embraces challenge of playing first base

The slugger is putting in the work at his latest defensive position.
Twins righthander Jose Berrios pitched three scoreless innings against the Pirates on Saturday night in Fort Myers, Fla.

Berrios pitches three scoreless innings but Twins lose 2-0 to Pirates

Derek Shelton earned his first spring managerial victory against his former team.
Mexico players posed for a group photo during a medal award ceremony after beating the United States 3-2 on Nov. 17 in Tokyo to earn a spot in the 202

Twins will have discussions over Olympic qualifying duty

Two players at Twins camp were on the Team USA roster in November.
Brent Rooker

Twins' hopefuls Rooker, Thielbar have chance at Olympics with Team USA

Brent Rooker and Caleb Thielbar were teammates Thursday in a spring training game, just as they were teammates last November when both were selected to play for Team USA in an Olympic qualifier..
Royce Lewis was daunted last season by too few hits and too much advice. “I’m actually very excited that happened,” he said, “because it can o

After season of adversity, top Twins prospect Lewis looks for a big year

Royce Lewis was in a rut during the 2019 season that slowed his ascent through the Twins farm system. "I literally didn't think I was going to make it for a while there," said the 20-year-old shortstop.
Minnesota Twins DH Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homerun in the third inning.

Celestino, Cruz homer as Twins beat Red Sox

Kenta Maeda made his exhibition debut for Minnesota, giving up one run in two innings.
Twins fans in Fort Myers got a taste of newly signed Josh Donaldson on Sunday, when he went 0-for-3 against the Blue Jays. But Donaldson might not be

Bomba Squad 2.0: Twins in no hurry to figure out 2020 batting order

Manager Rocco Baldelli is bringing along his key players at different paces during training camp, which means the wait to see actual lineup could be agonizing.
Twins outfielder Max Kepler. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ • – Fort Myers, FL – February 17, 2020, CenturyLink Sports Complex, Ham

Kepler returns to Germany, finds out he's become a pretty big deal

Twins outfielder Max Kepler took part in one event in a mall in which the line snaked throughout the facility, making him wonder if there were more than 1,000 fans in attendance.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Michael Pineda waved to fans during Sunday's workout.

Pineda broke rule, but strengthened ties that kept him with Twins

After being suspended for violating baseball's drug rules, something happened that convinced pitcher Michael Pineda about how much he wanted to remain with the Twins
Homer Bailey, who signed a $7 million deal with the Twins, is a lifelong horseman who kept horses outside Cincinnati, where he pitched for 12 season

Not his first rodeo: Bailey looks to help out Twins pitching staff

New Twins pitcher Homer Bailey, he of two career no-hitters and owner of lots of horses and land in his native Texas, is riding a resurgence after injuries.
Twins players took the field on Wednesday in Fort Myers for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. Opening Day is in exactly six weeks.

Baldelli tells Twins on Day 1: 'Come in expecting to win a lot of games'

Rocco Baldelli erased any doubts on Wednesday as he spoke on the first day of Twins workouts for pitchers and catchers.
Twins pitchers warmed up on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

Twins pitchers - minus two - and catchers report to spring training

Fernando Romero and Kenta Maeda were the only absences on Wednesday -- and Jhoulys Chacin has a video on how to say his name.
Byron Buxton

Buxton can swing, but Twins not rushing him after shoulder surgery

Byron Buxton has been cleared by doctors to start swinging a bat, but has not yet joined teammates in on-field batting cage sessions at Fort Myers.
The latest salary to land on the books is that of righthander Kenta Maeda, who was acquired from the Dodgers. Maeda’s base salary is just $3 million

Twins opening season with record payroll that only figures to rise

The team's payroll will set a record this season at almost $135 million, and incentive-laden contracts, such as for new starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, should add more.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol throws his first MLB pitch during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sund

Deal do-over: Graterol now going to Dodgers in revised trade for Maeda

Nearly a week after the Twins initially thought they had a trade with Boston for Brusdar Graterol secured, the hard-throwing prospect is headed to the West Coast instead.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol

Twins' portion of baseball megadeal appears to be on the rocks

Depsite losing faith that a deal could be struck, the Twins on Saturday made one last attempt to satisfy the Red Sox by offering a second minor leaguer.
Five story lines for Twins spring training

Five story lines for Twins spring training

Here are five story lines to watch during the 47 days of spring training, which runs until March 23.
Graterol still with Twins as trade concerns continue to drag on

Graterol still with Twins as trade concerns continue to drag on

The players' union voiced its concern over the teams' failure to complete the deal.
Twins infielder Luis Arraez signed autographs during TwinsFest 2020 on Friday

'Pretty remarkable': Thought of a full season with Arraez excites Twins

Second-year infielder Luis Arraez could bat leadoff and says he wants to reach double digits in home runs this season for the Twins. Last season, he made his debut on May 18 and a month later was on the team for good.
Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario took questions on stage for a Facebook Live event during TwinsFest on Saturday.

Rosario hoping more power will mean All-Star recognition

The Twins' incumbent left fielder is getting used to feeling slighted, but he's also good at channeling any frustration into his game.
Justin Morneau won the Kirby Puckett Award for Alumni Community Service at the Twins’ Diamond Awards banquet Thursday night at the Depot.

'Pick up the phone': Morneau gets call to Twins Hall of Fame

Justin Morneau, who won an American League MVP award for the Twins in 2006 and almost won another two years later, is the newest member of the team's Hall of Fame.
Josh Donaldson put on a Twins jersey for the first time during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at Target Field. Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli

Donaldson's goal with Twins: 'I want to impact the entire organization'

Josh Donaldson, who owns the highest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any Twins opponent, signed the largest free-agent contract in team history.
Rich Hill during the 2017 World Series.

Big names? No. But Twins add starting pitchers Hill and Bailey

Signing veteran pitchers Homer Bailey and Rich Hill adds experience to the rotation. But the team apparently will rely on some young pitchers for the first part of the season.
Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year: Nelson Cruz, Man of La Bomba

Star Tribune Sportsperson of the Year: Nelson Cruz, Man of La Bomba

It started last offseason, when the Twins were looking for a power hitter to anchor their lineup, a veteran who could guide a group of young players looking for leadership. They found that leader in Nelson Cruz.
Tyler Clippard has 68 saves in 751 major league appearances.

Two-time All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard signs with Twins

After spending 2019 with rival Cleveland, 13-year veteran landed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million.
The Twins hired Mike Bell to be Rocco Baldelli’s bench coach. Bell, 45, was vice president of player development for the Diamondbacks.

Twins' new bench coach Bell from three-generation baseball family

Mike Bell's grandfather Gus was a 15-year major-leaguer, his father Buddy had an 18-year career and his brother David will be going into his second season as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
Sergio Romo joined the Twins at the trade deadline last season.

Reliever Romo bringing big-breaking slider back to Twins

Sergio Romo, who will be 37 on March 4, posted a 3.18 ERA in 27 games with the Twins after coming over on a deadline day trade with Miami.
The Twins' biggest move to this point this offseason was to make righthander Jake Odorizzi a $17.8 million qualifying offer, which he accepted.

Twins leave winter meetings with same holes they had before

As they prepare for the 2020 season, the Twins left the winter baseball meetings still needing a high-impact starting pitcher, a capable reliever and a corner infielder.
Josh Donaldson

Another big bat? Twins making pitch for ex-MVP Donaldson

Finding starting pitching continues to be a priority for the Twins but they have been in contact with 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson's representatives for most of the offseason.
Derek Shelton, left, and Rocco Baldelli shared a laugh during spring training in Fort Myers in February.

Twins manager Baldelli must replace Shelton -- and battle with him

Derek Shelton is the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and already named a bench coach Rocco Baldelli and the Twins were also considering.
Among the free-agent pitchers the Twins are looking at for their starting rotation are three NL lefthanders: San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, the Lo

Free agents get down to business but are Twins on their agenda?

Teams are committing more money than expected to lock up top pitching, and it's leading to quicker clarity on the starting pitching market.
Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals spoke at the White House on Nov. 4 as President Trump hosted the World Series champions.

Neal: Will rising tide from Strasburg deal wash over Twins?

Madison Bumgarner might end up being the winner if he gets above market price as a free agent.
Minnesota Twins bosses Thad Levine and Derek Falvey.

Twins' pitching 'Plan A' might have to change this offseason

So far this offseason, the Twins have been unable to land the impact starter they seek. The winter meetings begin Monday in San Diego, and Minnesota might have to turn its focus to offense.
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda

Pineda gets new deal with Twins, must complete drug suspension

The Twins agreed to re-sign the free agent righthander to a two-year contract worth $20 million. He'll be sidelined until early May to finish his 60-game suspension.
Zack Wheeler was 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA for the Mets last season.

Wheeler had $100 million offer from Twins, took richer deal from Phillies

The Twins now will move on with their list of candidates, including lefty Madison Bumgarner, who had a bounceback season in 2019.
Rocco Baldelli, right, has lost his bench coach, hitting coach and assistant bullpen coach from his first year with the Twins, but the AL Manager of t

Baldelli's challenges: Get free agents, replacements for departed coaches

Twins Insider: The Twins are unlikely to go after über aces Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg in free agency, but they have interest in the next tier of pitchers.
Jorge Polanco homered in the opening game of the ALDS in Yankee Stadium on Oct. 4.

Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco has ankle surgery

The All-Star had arthroscopic debridement on his right ankle Friday in Los Angeles.
Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, right, talked with Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman during workouts in March at Target Field.

Twins bench coach Derek Shelton will manage Pirates

Derek Shelton, who replaces Clint Hurdle, beat Matt Quatraro for the job.
Kyle Gibson pitched seven seasons for the Twins.

Former Twins pitcher Gibson to sign with Texas for 3 years, $30 million

After seven seasons in Minnesota, the team let him go as a free agent.
Jeremy Hefner was an advance scout for the Twins before being named assistant pitching coach for the 2019 season.

Twins losing assistant pitching coach Hefner to Mets

The 33-year-old was an advance scout for the Twins before joining the coaching staff last season.
New Twins hitting coach Edgar Varela (left, with former manager Paul Molitor) spent 10 years with the Pirates before joining the Twins' minor league s

'Pressure is a privilege.' Twins' new hitting coach welcomes challenge

The Twins looked at candidates within and outside the organization, and also received feedback from players before name Edgar Varela hitting coach.
Edgar Varela (left, with former manager Paul Molitor) will join the major league staff as hitting coach, replacing James Rowson, after spending the pa

Twins will name Edgar Varela as hitting coach, replacing Rowson

Edgar Varela, 39, will join the major league staff after spending the past two seasons as Twins' minor league field coordinator.
Twins position players huddled in the outfield during spring training in February.

Twins add five players to roster, including hard-throwing Duran

The Twins added five minor leaguers to their 40-man roster, highlighted by Jhoan Duran, a 21-year-old pitcher whose fastball has been clocked as high as 102 miles per hour.
Jake Odorizzi made $9.5 million in 2019; what will it take to bring the All-Star pitcher back to the Twins for 2020 and beyond?

Twins have money to spend but a rotation to fill

With possibly four-fifths of the 2019 rotation becoming free agents, the Twins have spots open behind Jose Berrios.
Sam Dyson

Dyson declines minor league assignment from Twins, becomes free agent

Sam Dyson, 31, had right shoulder surgery on Sept. 24 and is expected to miss all of next season, making it all but certain the Twins would not offer him a contract for 2020.
Jake Odorizzi, a pending free agent, pitched in the August rain at Target Field.

Twins' path to 2020 begins now with free-agent negotiations

Teams have started a window in which they can talk to their own players who can become free agents.They can start going after players from other teams next week.
Ryan LaMarre

Twins move LaMarre, two other players off 40-man roster

All three were late season additions as the team won the American League Central Division.
Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, right, will remain in Minnesota alongside Senior Vice President and General Manager Thad Levine

Twins boss Falvey declines to interview for Red Sox job

Boston selected Tampa Bay executive Chaim Bloom to head their baseball operations department. According to multiple sources, the Red Sox had Derek Falvey high on their list of candidates
James Rowson laughed with fans at TwinsFest in January at Target Field.

Twins hitting coach Rowson headed to Miami Marlins

After guiding the Twins to a record 307 home runs this season, Rowson will be a bench coach in Florida and also have the title of "offensive coordinator."
Jake Odorizzi is a free agent coming off his best season in the majors. He said he'd like to return to Minnesota but is a free agent.

Twins management vows to pursue 'impact pitching' for 2020 and beyond

Twins management said it plans to aim high to upgrade its roster, with an extra focus on improving a starting rotation that frayed badly during the second half of this season.
Some moves worked out for Twins manager Rocco Baldelli throughout the ALDS series with the Yankees. Some definitely are up for debate.

Plenty to ponder: Baldelli's playoff moves fall under the microscope

Everything a manager he does is up for scrutiny, especially in the postseason. And there were things about Rocco Baldelli's decisions to dissect after the Twins' season-ending loss.
Home plate umpire Todd Tichernor made a remark to Twins second baseman Jonathan Schoop on Saturday.

After two swings and two misses, Twins batters ponder approach for Game 3

The Twins have scored six runs in two games. So what now? "We have a plan," Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. "Hopefully the plan works this time."
Pictured above
Reliever Tyler Duffey reacted after Yankees SS Didi Gregorius, rear, knocked a grand slam in the third inning.

Yankees slam Twins 8-2 to take 2-0 lead; Game 3 Monday at Target Field

Didi Gregorius' third-inning grand slam was the deciding blow as New York rolled to the victory, the Yankees' 12th in a row over the Twins in postseason play.
Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios

Berrios runs up pitch count, and control isn't quite there in Game 1

Entrusted with the responsibility of putting the Twins on the right path during Game 1 of the ALDS vs. the Yankees, the numbers told the story for starter Jose Berrios.