Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2019

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Twins President Remains Upbeat


A Tuesday notes column including the Twins, Vikings, Gophers and Wild.

The Twins won two of three games against the Central Division leading Indians last weekend after demoting 2017 American League All-Star Miguel Sanó to Single-A Fort Meyers on Thursday. Dispatching the underperforming Sano for hitting and conditioning rehab to Florida doesn’t mean club president Dave St. Peter is down on his club. Sanó has played in 37 games for the Twins this season, hitting .203 (30-for-148) with nine doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, 14 walks and 66 strikeouts.

Center fielder Byron Buxton’s performance has been a disappointment, too.  Like Sano, he has been injured and his stats are not impressive, either. Buxton has played in just 28 games, hitting .156 with no home runs and four RBI.

Buxton and Sano were counted on before the season to be leaders of the now struggling Twins offense. St. Peter told Sports Headliners this morning that the two young players have “tremendous potential” and he remains optimistic about them. “I can assure you we’re not giving up on them,” he said.

Minnesota’s record is 31-37 and the Twins are 5.5 games back of the Indians who they don’t play again for several weeks. Their last remaining meetings against the Indians come in late July and August—a total of three series.

The Twins need to be at their best for a three-game series against the Red Sox that starts tonight at Target Field. Minnesota has struggled for years against baseball’s better teams. The Red Sox, 49-24, are co-leaders of the competitive East Division and play the Twins for the first time this season, while planning to use three starters who are a combined 22-11.

Chris Sale, 6-4, is scheduled to start tonight, followed by David Price, 8-3, and Rick Porcello, 8-4. The Twins will counter with Jose Berrios, 7-5, Lance Lynn, 4-5, and Kyle Gibson, 2-4.

Minnesota’s starting pitching has been a team strength. “We have more consistent good starting pitching than we’ve seen here in a long, long time,” said St. Peter who is hopeful of the Twins earning their way into the postseason.

The Twins are 3-10 this season against East Division teams. The co-leading Yankees, 47-22, swept a four-game series against Minnesota in New York earlier this year.

John DeFilippo

The Vikings’ 2018 offense could be exciting, and not only because of new quarterback Kirk Cousins and holdovers like Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It’s anticipated the schemes and playcalling of new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo will be impressive.

“He’s got a lot of creative things under his belt,” Vikings offensive lineman Nick Easton told Sports Headliners. “He likes to keep a defense on edge, (and) never let them get a beat on what we’re doing. I think it’s going to really pay off for us.”

DeFilippo’s coaching resume includes the 2007 season working for Lane Kiffin when the Bloomington, Minnesota native was head coach of the Oakland Raiders at age 31.

Brandon Zylstra, the 2017 Canadian Football League All-Star wide receiver from Spicer, Minnesota, impressed the Vikings this spring. DeFilippo gave the impression last week that the 6-2, 215- pound 25 year old could make the final roster.

“…He’s a big, strong guy,” DeFilippo said. “People are going to have a hard time getting up in his face and pressing him. He has tremendous hands. He’s smart. He’s one of the guys that can line up anywhere, (and) we could put him at any position. We’re very fortunate he’s on our football team.”

Athlon magazine includes North Dakota State safety Robbie Grimsley, from Hutchinson, Minnesota, on its first-team FCS All-American defense.

Athlonsports.com believes the “Big Ten might have the best collection of head coaches among Power 5 leagues for the 2018 season.” Predictably, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer leads the list. Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck is No. 10 in the 14-team Big Ten and ranked ahead of Maryland’s D.J. Durkin, Rutgers’ Chris Ash, Indiana’s Tom Allen and Illinois’ Lovie Smith (No. 14).

Steven Lassan’s June 12 story for Athlon.com praises Fleck’s recruiting success and he writes the second-year Gopher coach has Minnesota “trending in the right direction.”

Vic Viramontes, the Gopher quarterback who recently transferred back to junior college to become a linebacker, has 19,600 followers on Twitter.

Bobby Bell, who turned 78 on Sunday, is arguably the most legendary former Golden Gophers football player still alive. Bell was a two-time All-American defensive tackle and won the 1962 Outland Trophy. From 1960-1962 he was a major reason why the Gophers had a 22-6-1 record with two Rose Bowl appearances and one Big Ten title. The 6-4, 228-pound Bell was a high school quarterback and so athletic he could have played any of several positions for coach Murray Warmath.

When I was involved with Minnesota North Stars marketing years ago I worked with general manager Jack Ferreria. He was one of the most professional front office people I have ever known. He joined the Wild earlier this month as an assistant general manager.

Ferreria, 74, coached new Wild GM Paul Fenton when he was an amateur player. Fenton later was on the San Jose Sharks roster when Ferreria was the team’s general manager.

Fired Wild GM Chuck Fletcher may keep his Minneapolis suburban residence for awhile. Fletcher’s son will be entering his senior year of high school later this summer.

Minneapolis-based Jostens might produce the Washington Capitals Stanley Cup rings. Jostens has a history of rings with Stanley Cup winners and also produced the rings for the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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