Enjoy a Tuesday notes column.
Carlos Correa, with the richest contract on the team and a disappointing .228 batting average, has frustrated Twins fans during a difficult season but he has demonstrated leadership and high character. The club’s 28-year-old shortstop has experienced a painful summer playing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot but yet he has started 129 games for the Twins, a total no other teammate even comes close to.
In an era when fans complain about the constant injuries sidelining players, Correa’s will to play is admirable. He has shown a commitment to lead by example and an impact on teammates predicted by club president Dave St. Peter even before his first full season with the Twins in 2022. St. Peter told Sports Headliners in April of last year that he also expected the bilingual former Astros star to make an impact in the community.
Correa is the Twins’ nominee for the 2023 Roberto Clemente Award that annually recognizes the MLB player best representing the game with superb character, community involvement, philanthropy and other desirable behaviors on and off the field. On Correa’s resume of good deeds is a family foundation whose focus includes non-medical costs associated with pediatric cancer diagnosis.
For several years, considered one of baseball’s best shortstops, Correa has obviously struggled at the plate, but he does lead the team in RBI with 67. His hitting mechanics and balance have to be impacted by his sore foot. Known for producing in big moments in September and October, Correa is hitting .257 in his last 30 games as the Twins move toward clinching the AL Central Division title and playing in the postseason.
Although his running speed has slowed, Correa is having one of his best fielding seasons statistically. He has committed only six errors. His fielding average of .986 is near his MLB best for any season when he played in over 100 games.
Outfielder Walker Jenkins, the Twins’ first round draft selection this summer, is hitting a gaudy .362 for Single-A Fort Meyers. The 18-year-old has a .988 OPS, with three home runs and 22 RBI in 105 at bats.
With 333 career receptions Vikings WR Justin Jefferson can become the third player with at least 400 receptions in his first four career seasons and can surpass Michael Thomas (5,512) for the most receiving yards by a player in his first four career seasons in the NFL.
Jefferson had nine receptions for 150 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Bucs. He has at least 100 receiving yards in 25 of his first 51 career games. He has surpassed Lance Alworth as the fastest player in NFL history to reach 25 career games with at least 100 reception yards.
Jefferson, 24, also surpassed Randy Moss’s record as the youngest NFL player to reach 25 career games with at least 100 receiving yards. Moss was 25 when he set the record.
Leslie Frazier, the former Vikings head coach and now out of coaching, is appearing on various NFL Network studio shows, including NFL GameDay Live.
That was 84-year-old Owatonna native Tom Moore, who was a top assistant for the Gophers in the 1970s, on the sidelines in the Vikings-Bucs game on Sunday. Moore is in his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Bucs and 45th in the NFL.
Former Viking Matt Birk is a partner in Heritage Gear, an Edina-based firm that creates only American made premium accessories in the licensed sports merchandise industry. Heritage Gear creates high end wool and leather duffels and totes, cashmere scarves, merino wool blankets and other crafted goods for 50 major colleges, the NFL and most recently expanded to Major League Baseball. https://www.heritagegear.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw6eWnBhAKEiwADpnw9sXpjrlO72SJf8tM6g07MFtOQvOLqFyAyqvE-MprOKoO9OUD5X1VohoCJIcQAvD_BwE
The 2-0 football Gophers are about a touchdown underdog at North Carolina Saturday, but my view is the game is tossup. The Carolina cornerbacks could be vulnerable to Minnesota’s passing game and the Gopher defense has allowed one touchdown in two games.
A win over the 2-0 Tar Heels, ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, could put Minnesota into the national top 25.
Darius Taylor, who rushed for 193 yards last Saturday against Eastern Michigan, is the Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Taylor’s total is the second highest in school history for a true freshman, trailing only Darrell Thompson’s 205 against Bowling Green in 1986. Taylor has impressed with his maturity and attitude on and off the field.
Taylor is likely to be the Gophers’ lead running back this season. Minnesota’s quality and depth at running back was hurt after the 2021 season when major contributors Bucky Irving and Ky Thomas transferred. Irving is at Oregon and Thomas plays for Kent State after first transferring to Kansas.
Dinkytown Athletes, the Gophers’ official collective, has helped WR Daniel Jackson, who made an extraordinary toe-tapping TD catch against Nebraska, connect with Athlete’s Thread to sell clothing celebrating the extraordinary reception. https://athletesthread.com/collections/daniel-jackson
DA hosted over 100 guests at a tailgate party before the Minnesota-Eastern Michigan game, most of them members of the collective that started about a year ago to benefit Gopher athletes. Players from the Gopher men’s basketball team also attended the event.
It wouldn’t be surprising if former Gophers guard Andre Hollins is the new analyst on University of Minnesota basketball radio broadcasts next season, working with play-by-play voice Mike Grimm.
Signaling plays on the sidelines for Eastern Michigan Saturday was Jeremiah Salem, grandson of former Gophers’ head coach Joe Salem. Jeremiah, a sophomore quarterback, is the son of Brad Salem, tight ends coach at Memphis.
Minneapolis native and longtime college basketball coach Jay Pivec (most recently a men’s assistant at St. Thomas) is working on his autobiography, The Book of Piv. It’s a delightful collection of stories from a colorful and high character coach who made his coaching mark in the five-state area. “All the stories are as true as they need to be,” Pivec writes. “With the exception of my own, some names have been changed to protect the stupid.”
Armstrong High School alum Cameron Hodges, who played for Pivec at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, has joined the NBA Houston Rockets as an assistant coach after previous positions in the league including with the Clippers, Sixers and Spurs.
Edina native Anders Nelson, who played collegiately at St. Thomas and most recently for William & Mary, signed a professional basketball contract last month to play in Switzerland. Playing as a grad student in 2022-2023, the 6-foot-1 guard led William & Mary with an 11.2 points per game average.
It looks like sophomore Mason West, already a hockey star and now throwing touchdown passes as Edina High’s quarterback, is on his way to a place among the Hornets’ greatest athletes.
Abbey Murphy, who scored 29 goals last season for the Gopher women’s hockey team, has been named to the All-WCHA preseason team.