Staff Directory 102061883

Phil Miller

Reporter | Minnesota Twins and MLB
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Phil Miller has covered the Twins for the Star Tribune since 2013. Previously, he covered the University of Minnesota football team, and from 2007-09, he covered the Twins for the Pioneer Press.

A native of Pekin, Ill., Miller attended the University of Utah, and worked for 26 years at The Salt Lake Tribune, spending five years as assistant sports editor, and later as a reporter covering communities, college football and basketball, and the NBA's Utah Jazz.
Recent content from Phil Miller
A giant baseball sculpture sits outside an empty Target Field, home of the Twins

Safety, salaries are Major League Baseball's most difficult issues

MLB's 67-page "operations manual" to address player safety was delivered to the union Friday night. But plenty of hurdles remain before Target Field is occupied again
Players in dugouts won't be standing close to each other, as these Royals players did last September while watching Miguel Sano of the Twins.

MLB offers guide for player safety in hopes of restarting season

Major League Baseball's detailed plans to address player safety during what it hopes will be a captivating, if shortened, 2020 season, leaked to several national media outlets.
Baseball again at Target Field in July? Much is left to discuss between owners and players.

MLB, players union start far apart on plan to open season in July

Major League Baseball and its Players Union met Tuesday to discuss an owner-approved return to the diamond. Safety and money issues must be resolved to start the season. There were no reports of consensus reached.
Major League Baseball could return to Target Field as early as July 4th under a proposal for a shortened 2020 season that the sport’s 30 team owners

Twins baseball in July? Owners approve plan, but will it really happen?

Baseball officials have started their lobbying efforts, including a Monday briefing with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. Getting everyone to go along with the current plan is far from guaranteed.
The Twins picked reliever Taylor Rogers in the 11th round in 2012, but this year's draft will only go five rounds in a cost-cutting move because of th

Twins aren't happy with baseball's plan for shortened draft

As the Twins try to zero in on whom they might acquire in next month's amateur draft, it's hard not to think about what they'll miss out on, too.
Target Field has been empty this season with the Major League Baseball season on hold.

Twins offering package of refunds, credits for unplayed April games

MLB had hoped to implement a league-wide policy on ticket refunds during the pandemic, but this week decided to allow each team develop its own plan.
Before the Twins play their games at an empty Target Field — or any empty ballpark — there figures to be a battle between owners and the MLBPA ove

Even if games can be played, baseball has battle brewing over salaries

Ending the first extended disruption of a Major League Baseball season that wasn't about money might be even more difficult than it once appeared — because of money.
The Twins celebrated clinching the AL Central title last September.

Highly successful 2019 season greatly increased value of Twins

Winning more than 100 games for the first time in 54 years was a big deal to Twins fans, and it paid off for team ownership as well.
Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Diamondbacks, could be a stadium used if MLB decides to play the 2020 season all in Arizona, an option MLB and the

Safety concerns are paramount before MLB tries to salvage season

The notion of housing all MLB teams in Arizona and starting the season in smaller venues around the state faces significant hurdles, starting with the support of players.
Target Field sat empty this week, an hour before the home opener against Oakland would have begun.

Cancellation of season would do a number on Twins' roster

An agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, reached March 27 but not yet announced, established the framework of baseball's eventual return, even if it's not until next March.
A skeleton crew of grounds keepers cut the grass at Target Field Friday afternoon.

Twins offer financial help to staff hurt by virus-canceled games

There are roughly 800-900 workers at Target Field not employed by the Twins. For them, the Target Field Employee Assistance Fund is being set up, and the team is making a "significant" (unspecified) contribution.
After accepting the Twins’ $17.8 million qualifiying offer for 2020 last November, righthander Jake Odorizzi is set to become a free agent after the

With higher stakes than most, Odorizzi prepares for short season

Jake Odorizzi understood when he delayed free agency that he was betting on himself. But he might no longer be the deciding factor in that wager.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton fielded a ball.

Twins: Buxton would have been ready for opener, pitchers face the unknown

Manager Rocco Baldelli said that Byron Buxton has healed completely from the shoulder surgery that ended his 2019 season early; pitching coach Wes Johnson said his staff faces an assortment of challenges.
Target Field lies dormant — as do all MLB ballparks — as the Twins’ Opening Day and 2020 season have been postponed because of coronavirus issue

Good times deferred: An Opening Day without baseball

The loss of Opening Day traditions doesn't begin to compare to the losses being inflicted by coronavirus. But that won't make the day less … odd.
The Twins were scheduled to open the season next week on the road. Now, a date for Opening Day is anyone's guess.

'Baseball will return.' But Twins officials can't say it will be this year

Exactly one week before the 2020 baseball season was to begin, the Twins' top executives reluctantly considered the possibility that Opening Day is actually one year away.
A sign outside the Twins' Hammond Stadium read "spring training suspended" on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Twins abandon training camp after MLB bans all organized activity

MLB facilities are required to be available only to players on the 40-man roster, with exceptions granted for international players and players who need ongoing medical treatment.
Twins fan Bill Gallegos, of Los Angeles checked his work after taking pictures outside closed Hammond Stadium on Friday in Fort Myers, Fla.

MLB gives players option to leave camp; Twins to meet Saturday

MLB, which suspended the season Thursday, issued a statement late Friday saying players can remain in their spring training cities, return to their offseason homes, or head to their team's home city.
"Guys are going to come in," Mitch Garver said. "They’re going to do what they normally do, but there’s just not going to be a game at 1 o’clock

'We're still going to be here.' Games stop, work continues for Twins

The weird thing about being told that camps are being shut down, Mitch Garver said Thursday, is that for the players, it means more spring training, not less.
The Ken Griffey Jr. statue stood alone outside the Mariners’ T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Wednesday, when Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a ban

Twins facing uncertainty over season-opening trip

The seven games in Oakland and Seattle are expected to be relocated.
Byron Buxton

Pain-free Buxton 'going in the right way' with Opening Day approaching

Byron Buxton on Tuesday faced live pitching for the first time since Aug. 25, but the Twins — and Buxton — are adamant that the season's starting line is not Buxton's finish line.
Jake Cave has a .329 on-base and .466 slugging percentage in 163 games for the Twins.

Cave outlines fight for roster spot on Twins' team of sluggers

On a team that hit more baseballs into the seats than any other in baseball history, it's easy to get overlooked. Jake Cave doesn;t want that happening to him.
Twins coaches spoke with outfielders during the first day of workouts for position players last month in Fort Myers.

Cutting the roster: Twins seek to do it with 'decorum and diplomacy'

"Even in the best of circumstances, it's a deflating experience for the person receiving the news," general manager Thad Levine said. The Twins have guidelines for roster cuts that are meant to lessen the blow.
Twins prospect Royce Lewis signed autographs for fans on Feb. 21 in Fort Myers.

'For everyone's safety' Twins rethink fan interactions due to coronavirus

Twins players plan to sign baseballs in the clubhouse and hand them out to kids after workouts. They will also avoid high-fives and handshakes with teammates.
Twins catcher Alex Avila

Twins players grateful for opportunity to get away from camp

Rocco Baldelli let two Miami-area residents go home for a few extra days.
Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer gave up four runs on five hits in a 6-1 loss to the Cardinals on Monday, but was encouraged by the progress of his slider

Smeltzer's slider-filled start a success of sorts, despite Twins' 6-1 loss

Twins offense is quiet again, picking up just four hits vs. St. Louis.
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco made the American League All-Star team last year during a breakout season.

Polanco showing new confidence as longest tenured Twins player

Jorge Polanco blossomed into an All-Star shortstop last season, and more than repaid the confidence the Twins showed in him by agreeing to a $25.75 million contract.
Zack Littell (52) threw in the bullpen during a spring training workout on Feb. 16.

Littell tries something new to cruise into Twins bullpen spot

On land or at sea, 24-year-old righthander Zack Littell has prepared to make the Twins out of spring training.after altering his unusual offseason routine.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver and starter Jose Berrios compared notes at the end of the second inning against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Six batters, four strikeouts: Berrios sharp in first exhibition appearance

For a guy determined to throttle down a bit in the spring in order to feel more rested in the fall, Jose Berrios looks like he was already in midseason form.
Twins prospect Royce Lewis demonstrates his pre-swing leg kick.

Power generation: Some (but not all) Twins find leg kicks beneficial to swings

It's not for everyone, but a pre-swing leg kick has helped some Twins players generate immense power at the plate.
New Twins catcher Alex Avila, left, joked with Twins legend Tony Oliva during a recent spring training practice.

Alex Avila and the new Twins catcher's big catch

It once took Alex Avila and friends 3 1/2 hours to bring in a 586-pound swordfish. As great a thrill as that was, the new Twins catcher would rather win a baseball game.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli greets Twins' full roster with 1 goal, 2 magic words: World Series

Rocco Baldelli said he didn't want to leave any doubt about how far he thinks the Twins, only four years removed from a 103-loss season, can go.
Josh Donaldson, at 34, said he thinks he has plenty of good offensive years left.

Healthy Donaldson confident his best years aren't in the past

The Twins, who agreed last month to pay 34-year-old Josh Donaldson $92 million for the next four years, are banking he has more elite seasons in his future.
Twins pitcher Tyler Clippard

Tenth time a charm? Clippard's latest stop brings him to Twins

Tyler Clippard has been traded six times and become a free agent four, each time switching teams. And next month, he will become the 44th player in baseball history to play for 10 major league teams.
New Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda had his first workout at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday.

Number of aces: Maeda follows Japanese tradition by getting No. 18

The Twins are following a baseball tradition (and a clause in their new pitcher's contract) with Mitch Garver giving up his No. 18 to newly acquired Kenta Maeda.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli

Baldelli says he welcomes challenge of improving on 101-win season

Rocco Baldelli will supervise the Twins' first workout of the spring Wednesday, opening his second season as a big-league manager with one burden that instantly raises the degree-of-difficulty: expectations.
Brusdar Graterol's future is still in limbo in the aftermath of the three-way deal involving the Twins, Boston and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Twins or Red Sox? Graterol remains in limbo as blockbuster trade not official

Brusdar Graterol was in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday getting ready for spring training. The question is, which team will he report to next week?
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda has a contract, which the Twins could inherit, that pays him more when he makes starts.

Innings equal dollars: Maeda contract tied to workload

Wherever he winds up for 2020, thanks to his contract Kenta Maeda will want to pitch — and pitch a lot.
Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol

Graterol's medical records cast doubt on blockbuster trade

The Twins' piece of the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade has reportedly stalled the rest of the deal, plunging the Twins' acquisition of Dodgers righthander Kenta Maeda into doubt.
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda throws a pitch to during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series vs. Washington last season.

Graterol to Boston, Maeda to Twins in blockbuster deal sending Mookie Betts to L.A.

The Twins were the third team in the deal that also sends 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.
After a strong 2019 season with the Twins that included an All-Star selection, Jake Odorizzi’s offseason has included bringing 1-year-old son Maddex

For Odorizzi, it's full speed ahead thanks to more zip on pitches

With improved velocity on his pitches and a one-year contract for 2020, Jake Odorizzi is looking forward to a prove-it season with the Twins.
Jhoulys Chacin has pitched for seven major league teams in 11 seasons.

Nine former big leaguers get non-roster invitations to Twins camp

Jhoulys Chacin heads the list of 20 players who got minor league contracts and are headed to Fort Myers.
Jhoulys Chacin's rough 2019 ended with Boston, where the veteran righthander went 0-2 with 1 7.35 ERA in six games.

Veteran starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to sign with Twins

In 2018 he led the National League with 35 starts, when he was 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 192 innings. In 2019, he was awful.
Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol signed autographs during TwinsFest 2020 on Friday at Target Field.

Twins make their call: Graterol's 100 mph fastball will come out of bullpen

Brusdar Graterol's world-class velocity has made him the Twins' top pitching prospect for the past couple of years. The Twins have decided how to use him, for now.
Now with the Twins, former AL MVP Josh Donaldson adds punch to the lineup of the reigning American League Central champions.

Donaldson adds knockout punch to most homegrown lineup in years

All nine players projected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup had an on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) number above the American League average in 2019.
At Target Field in 2014, Josh Donaldson, then with Oakland, joked with Derek Jeter, whose Hall of Fame election was announced Tuesday.

Roster, payroll, jersey number: What does Donaldson signing mean to Twins?

The potential effects of adding three-time All-Star and former MVP Josh Donaldson to the Twins are almost too numerous to track. Here's a look.
Thad Levine greeted third baseman Miguel Sano during last year's spring training.

More moves coming? Levine hints Twins looking at trade market

Twins general manager Thad Levine said the Twins haven't given up on supplementing the starting rotation, and that the team is looking to "stimulate some more conversations" on the trade market.
Twins manger Rocco Baldelli autographed a baseball for Reed Marquardt in downtown Minneapolis on Monday.

You worried about Twins starting pitching? Rocco Baldelli isn't

No mere pitching shortage can dent the laid-back serenity of the Twins' manager. Especially since Baldelli doesn't believe that one really exists.
Josh Donaldson

Twins' invitation to Donaldson finally got a response: It's a deal

The Twins' front office certainly did its part to sway Josh Donaldson to Target Field but a sales pitch video from Miguel Sano and some prodding from noted fan Mardy Fish helped, too.
Center fielder Byron Buxton missed significant playing time last season because of injuries.

Buxton among players to miss TwinsFest - but he's on track for spring

Byron Buxton, who underwent surgery Sept. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, is in Florida and has been cleared for hitting off a tee and other basic drills.
Josh Donaldson

Offseason home run: Donaldson agrees to $92 million deal with Twins

Former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson accepted the largest free-agent contract the Twins have ever agreed to, and should add big pop to a lineup that set the major league home run record last season.
Miguel Sano’s three-year contract includes a $14 million option on a fourth season.

Sano happy with three-year contract, willing to play wherever needed

Miguel Sano doesn't care whether he plays third base, first base or the outfield ... he's just happy to get a long-term contract from the Twins.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano agreed to a three-year contract that takes him at least through the 2022 season.

Sano agrees to three-year, $30M contract with Twins

Five other Twins players avoided arbitration with one-year deals, but Jose Berrios is the lone exception.
Josh Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played last season for Atlanta.

Twins likely out of the bidding for former AL MVP Donaldson

Free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson is seeking a four-year deal for more than $100 million, and the Twins appear to be out.
C.J. Cron hit 25 home runs in his first season with the Twins.

Who's on first next? Twins part ways with Cron, reliever Hildenberger

C.J. Cron and Trevor Hildenberger are free to sign with any team, including the Twins, but both figure to move on — in Cron's case, to his fourth team in four seasons.
Wisconsin cornerback Caesar Williams (21) and linebacker Chris Orr (54) celebrated after Williams broke up a pass intended for Gophers wide receiver T

'Row! Row! Row!' Wisconsin players pantomime rowing with Axe

The Badgers were unapologetic for their cheeky midfield celebration.
Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor scored a touchdown in the second quarter on a pass play with Gophers linebacker Carter Coughlin covering him.

Badgers players felt comfortable playing in the snow

Some of the Badgers had been preparing for Saturday's snow globe since grade school.
P.J. Fleck’s “Axe-on-Tour” trips in Minnesota after winning last year aggravated some Badgers.

Badgers have Axe to grind with Gophers in 129th meeting

The Gophers-Wisconsin football rivalry - 13 decades and 128 meetings - hits new heights Saturday and the Badgers want the trophy back.
Jonathan Taylor (23) might be the best in a long line of outstanding Wisconsin running backs. The Gophers face Taylor and the Badgers at TCF Bank Stad

Taylor might be the best of all the great Badgers running backs

The Gophers defense will have its hands full Saturday in trying to bring down Jonathan Taylor.
Jake Odorizzi is coming off his best major league season, winning 15 games for the Twins in 2019.

Should Jake Odorizzi second-guess returning to Twins?

Was it a strange decision, or is he making the best of a bad situation?
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi says he's 'betting on myself' in accepting Twins' qualifying offer

The righthander said he didn't want to find himself stuck without a team as spring training approached.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz led his team onto the field for last week’s 24-22 loss at Wisconsin.

Undefeated Gophers an underdog despite Iowa's three losses. Why?

Among other things, Iowa has allowed only 105 points in nine games, fewer than any Division I team except Ohio State and Georgia.
Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi's choice to stay with Twins allows both sides to look ahead

There were reasons for Jake Odorizzi to wait until after next season to test the free-agent market, which could also help the Twins front office in shaping the pitching staff for 2020.
Thad Levine (left) and Derek Falvey have agreed to new deals intended to keep them with the Twins through 2024.

Twins give 'Falvine' duo contract extensions, one gets a new title

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the architects of the Twins' American League Central champions, have agreed to contract extensions to remain in charge of the team's baseball operations.
Rocco Baldelli talked with Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, right, during the Twins’ playoff series against the Yankees.

Baldelli beats out Yankees' Boone for Manager of the Year in tight vote

Rocco Baldelli was honored Tuesday with the American League Manager of the Year Award, becoming the fourth Twins manager and third in the past decade to win the trophy.
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan released the ball quickly — he was sacked once — and usually found his target vs. Penn State. He also ran four t

Morgan nearly perfect at quarterback in Gophers' biggest win so far

Gophers QB Tanner Morgan threw for three TDs and 339 yards.
Since coach James Franklin and Penn State pulled out a 29-26 overtime victory over the Gophers in 2016, the Nittany Lions have gone 37-7 and returned

After 2016 victory over Gophers, 'the brand is back' at Penn State

The Gophers sense a pivotal moment in their football program's history coming on Saturday. In other words, they're hoping this weekend's game does for them what their last meeting did for Penn State.
Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi

Twins make offer to Odorizzi, buy out Perez as free-agent decisions begin

Pitcher Jake Odorizzi is expected to decline the $17.8 million qualifying offer in favor of seeking a long-term deal. The Twins didn't make offers to five others, including Kyle Gibson.
Nelson Cruz played around with teammates Eddie Rosario (left) and Willians Astudillo during a Twins workout Sunday at Target Field.

Cruz will return. Here's why he'll take pay cut after 40-homer year

Nelson Cruz, the veteran designated hitter, set a franchise record for slugging percentage in a big offensive season.
Twins first baseman C.J. Cron pointed to third baseman Miguel Sano after he fielded a grounder by Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton in Game 1 of

Kepler to rest injured back; Cron might need thumb surgery

While Max Kepler should be OK next spring without any further treatment on his nagging back, the Twins fear the same might not be the case for first baseman C.J. Cron.
Twins players, including injured center fielder Byron Buxton (middle), wore some grim faces during the ninth inning of an ALDS Game 3 loss to the Yank

1-2-3 and they're out: Twins lament quick end to team's fine season

The players were packing up Tuesday and coming to terms with a disappointing ending to a memorable season.
Eddie Rosario later hit a home run to get the Twins close, but he remained on his knees after being thrown out at first base in the fifth inning of th

Swept again: Twins' playoff losing streak hits 16 games, 16 Octobers

The highest-scoring team in Twins history went weakly into the winter with 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday, extending a baseball-record streak of postseason defeats that dates to 2004.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz took the floor in the clubhouse in Yankee Stadium after Saturday’s ugly Game 2 loss.

Cruz tried to inspire Twins with clubhouse speech after Game 2

"When a guy like that speaks, everybody listens and perks their ears up and takes it in, because he's been in a lot of different situations," pitcher Kyle Gibson said.
Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi talks to reporters during a news conference during the ALDS.

Twins need a hero: Odorizzi primed for a win-or-else challenge

In what could be his final start for the Twins, his team is asking nothing less from Jake Odorizzi than this: Save our season tonight against the Yankees at Target Field.
Eddie Rosario played right field, not his usual spot in left, at Yankee Stadium this weekend. “It’s no big deal,” he said.

Misstep in June eventually led to Rosario playing right field

Eddie Rosario started each of the first two games in the American League Division Series standing in front of the short porch in Yankee Stadium.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Cody Stashak gave up two home runs in the sixth inning, including one to New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner.

Twins turn in 'bad game at the wrong time' in Game 1 in N.Y.

Friday's 10-4 loss was the Twins' 14th consecutive postseason defeat, setting a major league record for October futility, and their 11th in a row to the Yankees.