For another week, readers filled our pro team mailbags with questions. Our Vikings and Minnesota United writers were off, but here's a sampling of what our other beat writers were asked. (You can ask Star Tribune sports editors questions for next week's mailbag by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Twins La Velle E. Neal III
Q How exactly will the "no spitting" rule be enforced? That is such an ingrained, instinctual habit, I can't see players not spitting occasionally. — @docmunson
A I can't see how an MLB dugout can go from being a trough for the amalgamation of fluids and sunflower seed shells to suddenly being dry. First of all, everybody spits. Secondly, a player can be mindful of the rule, have an energy drink go down the wrong windpipe and have to eject. I'm guessing there will be a lot of behind-the-dugout action as far as spitting is concerned. And how is that going to be policed?
Q Is the trade deadline still in effect this year, and if so are the Twins looking at additional pitching in relation to it? — @thesweatytuna
A So much is going on at the league office right now. There are the negotiations with the union about starting the season. And the league calendar will have to conform to whatever schedule is laid out. Having a July 31 deadline for a season that starts on July 4 isn't practical. It will likely be pushed back a month or two so teams can figure out what they need.
As for adding pitching, even in a shortened season, there is a period where teams see what's working and what's not. Keep in mind that Rich Hill could be ready to enter the rotation in mid-July and has a chance to pitch in more games than expected. That's a boost for the rotation.
Q Will the minor leagues start up when baseball returns? — @TJMattf
A That's the great unknown. It seems there needs to be some sort of minor league for players to stay sharp for when they are needed in the majors. The Twins used 55 players last season. If 2020 rosters are expanded to 30, they still need another 20-some players to get through a season. Players get promoted and demoted. Players get injured or traded. There has to be a plan for the "taxi squads" to get games in. But I've spoken to employees of minor league teams, and there is a fear that there won't be a minor league season.
Timberwolves Chris Hine
Q [Do] you think Gersson Rosas has done a great job? — @By LeslieMontei1
A I try as best I can to be an objective reporter, so it's hard for me to say if someone is doing a good or bad job. Our columnists are the ones paid to tell you if something stinks or smells like roses — and then you can tell them their opinion stinks or smells like roses.
As it pertains to the job Rosas is doing as Wolves president, I don't know how anyone can put a firm grade on the job he has done. He's still assembling his team. I will say that when Rosas took the job a little over a year ago, the ideas he vocalized to the fan base when it came to the rebuilding the franchise have largely come to fruition.
He said the Wolves weren't going to sit back and be passive observers. They were going to be active, especially in the trade market, since that's where it's more likely for a franchise like the Wolves to acquire a star player than free agency. And before the deadline in came D'Angelo Russell and out went the at times great, but more often frustrating, Andrew Wiggins, along with several other players. It was like shift change from the day crew to the night crew at a factory.
Rosas also said he was going to try and build a familial culture around the Wolves, and I get where fans can be skeptical about that kind of corporate speak. But something happened during the season I think showed Rosas has built the kind of atmosphere around the team he envisioned. It came just after the frantic trade deadline when the Wolves had dealt Robert Covington to the Rockets. Covington was back in town getting things to move to Houston, and he decided to come to the Wolves game that night — and he sat next to Rosas. How often does that happen in any professional sport?
Q Do you think the Wolves are most likely going to have co-head coaches in order to keep [assistant coach David] Vanterpool? — David Herem
A It's a creative thought! But I don't see how that would be practical. There'd be so many ramifications of that. If Vanterpool gets a head coaching job elsewhere in the league, you shake his hand, thank him for his time here and wish him well at the next job. Then you look to find his replacement. That's just the way of the coaching world.
Lynx Kent Youngblood
Q A reader asks whether the Lynx still hold Maya Moore's rights even though she is heading into the second year of her WNBA hiatus.
A The short answer: Yes. I asked coach Cheryl Reeve, who is also the team's GM, about this. "We have her rights,'' Reeve said. "When a player signs a contract and does not fulfill that contract, they go on the suspended list [like Moore]. When they come off that list, exclusive negotiating rights go to that team.''
Q A reader asks if Odyssey Sims and Jessica Shepard will be ready should the season start. And, if they are, how difficult will it be for the Lynx to reach their 12-player roster?
A This is a very timely question given that teams need to pare their rosters to 12 by Tuesday so that players can start getting paid June 1. This will present teams with difficult decisions, including the Lynx, who will have to make decisions about a number of younger players — including second-round draft selection Crystal Dangerfield — without having watched them practice with the team.
Sims and Shepard are question marks for different reasons. Sims gave birth to a son in early April. She has remained mum on if she will play this season, but the Lynx still believe she will be available, at least at some point. In mid-June Shepard will reach the one-year mark from surgery she had after tearing the ACL in her right knee early in last season.
I think it would be safe to assume that, should a season get going this summer, both of these players might not be available when it begins.
Wild Sarah McLellan
Q The 24-team playoff proposal: Are you [thumbs] up or thumbs down? — @adamsteinhouse
A A 24-team format is reportedly what the NHL is focusing on as it continues to figure out a way to restart the season, and I can understand why.
Since the season stopped with clubs having played an uneven amount of games, returning with an expanded field includes the bubble teams that had yet to lock down a playoff spot but were in legit contention. That seems like a judicious way to proceed rather than going straight to a traditional 16-team playoff with the standings as is. But is 24 the magic number? That's where this setup could get dicey.
The likes of Chicago and Montreal could be in the mix in this format, but is that fair? The appeal makes sense: Both are Original Six markets that could help the NHL drum up revenue lost by the stoppage. But both teams subtracted at the trade deadline, moves that suggested each was looking to the future instead of continuing to vie for the playoffs in the present. Is it right for these teams now to get a second wind?
Q What's the goalie depth chart now? Devan Dubnyk No. 2 and Alex Stalock No. 1? — @jtk1634
A If the season resumes, this will be one of the more intriguing questions for the Wild. When play was halted March 12, backup Stalock had taken control of the crease and the usual No. 1, Dubnyk, was making spot starts. The Wild could easily go back to this tandem. Stalock had been rolling, going 9-3-1 in his previous 13 starts with a 2.22 goals-against average and .924 save percentage — a span in which he posted two shutouts. But there's also the possibility the Wild reopens the competition, especially with a training camp scheduled to precede games.