Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 22, 2019 · C2
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · C2

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Issue Date:
Monday, July 22, 2019
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SUMMER VACATION Michael Rand is off this week. Voices will return Monday. A It’s difficult. Like, all the stuff we’re doing [in minicamp], we probably wouldn’t do in one game. We’d probably pare it down; “All right, this week, fellas, we’re going to major a little bit more in this. The next week, we might major in something else.” The one thing we do, we have smart players on defense, and they’re experienced, so that does help. Q With the changes to pass inter- ference [reviewable for the first time in 2019], how do you go about preparing for that as a coach? A I think part of it is, in the pre- season, trying to figure out exactly how it’s going to go. The other thing you have to be aware of is, each game has a different number of cameras. So I have to be a little more aware of, if it’s a Thursday game or a Sunday night game, there’s going to be 32 cameras. So they’re going to catch a lot more stuff than if you’ve got one of the down-the-line [broadcast] crews on Sunday at 1 o’clock [Eastern time]. It’s 15 cameras [on Sunday afternoons] up to 32 [for prime- time games]. So that’s another variation you’ve got to work. Q Is that something you can drill at all in training camp practices, with some of the end-of-game scenarios you work on? A Yeah; we’re going to do that quite a bit — the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, different sce- narios like that. Q How would you describe the fit with the new offensive coaches so far? A They’re doing a good job. I think it fits our offensive line bet- ter, the scheme that we’re running now — and we still have to find out when we get in pads, and we’re blocking people for real. It may not look great against the defense [in camp], because we’re not cut- ting people. We’re going to try to get some guys on the ground when we’re playing somebody else. As far as the offensive coaches coming together, it’s been great. They’re very communicative. They do a really good job of talk- ing about things that work in the past, and combinations with what we’ve done here — and again, I think [they’re] trying to use our players in better positions, using them more to their skill set. Q How do you look at the run- ning back workload going into the season? Do you see Alexan- der Mattison having a big role? A I think he’s got a chance. A young back, the [pass] protection is always the hardest thing. [Dal- vin] Cook’s going to get a decent amount, because he’s a really good player. But being able to spell him — it might be C.J. Ham a little bit more on some of the protection things, or some of the things we do on third down, because he’s smart and good at those things. It might be using the tight end in the backfield a little more. Q With the outside zone running scheme, what’s the key to being able to drill that in practice when you’re not trying to cut-block defenders and take people to the ground? A In practice — when we’re not going against each other — they’re going to have to get on the ground and work on their cuts. The big thing with the zone scheme is, trying to get one guy knocked out of a gap and trying to create big seams. But that’s not all we’re going to do, either; we’re going to have hardball runs, and gap scheme runs and things like that. Q What position on the roster do you think has the most depth? A I think the defensive line has got quite a bit of depth. You look at some of the young guys — [Hercules] Mata’afa and Jalyn Holmes, and then you’ve got Ifeadi [Odenigbo], he’s done a nice job in the spring. I thought he came on last year toward the end. And then you’ve got some young guys like [Armon] Watts and [Ade] Aruna. So those guys have a lot of depth, and it’ll be a good competition. But also, the other two spots, really — the receivers, trying to figure out who’s going to help us on special teams, [Brandon] Zylstra, it’s Jordan Taylor, it’s Bisi Johnson, it’s Dillon Mitchell, try- ing to figure out if these guys can figure out what to do, first. That’s the big thing. And I would say the second part of the offensive line, as well. Is it “AC” [Aviante Collins], is it Rashod Hill, it [Dru] Samia, is it Brett Jones? I mean, there’s Cornelius Edison — that group right there. Q Kirk [Cousins] has talked about needing to be better on third [down] and 4-to-6 [yards]. What can he do to help himself improve there? A I think you saw it a little bit [in minicamp]; scrambling for him is a little bit unnatural, and so he’s been working on that. I know he had three or four in there [in the last practice of minicamp], which makes it difficult for a defense. All of a sudden, it opens up and now you’ve got a 5-yard gain. He’s been doing it quite a bit more in these OTAs, and I think that leads to getting more single coverage, because you’ve got a guy on the quarterback, and they’ve got to be a lot more careful in some of the zones, as well. But the other part is, once we figure out after the offseason, “This is what we’re really good at in these down-and- distances, and let’s go do that.” Q He ran some in Washington [when he scored 13 rushing touch- downs from 2015-17], right? A Yeah, and I think he’s so much more comfortable in this scheme. That lends to it, too. Last year, he’s trying to learn the scheme, trying to figure out protection, trying to figure out play calls, and everything was so new that [the running] part of the game was kind of second-[tier] to him. BUILDING THE BIG PICTURE ø VIKINGS from C1 JERRY HOLT • New assistant head coach/offensive adviser Gary Kubiak has worked to get Kirk Cousins more com- fortable and mobile in the offensive scheme heading into the quarterback’s second Vikings season. TRAINING CAMP 2019 Where: Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, Eagan When: Rookies and select players report Tuesday, with the remain- ing players reporting Friday. Practices: Rookie practices are Tuesday-Thursday, and the first full-team practice is Friday. To watch: Full-team practices through Aug. 16 are open to fans, who are required to reserve tick- ets at MLB Twins players spilling from their dugout to chase Max Kepler into center field after four hours of plot twists and vital pitches is why you love baseball, if you love baseball, and if you love baseball you have to love what Ehire Adri- anza has become this season. Claimed off waivers in February 2017, Adrianza joined the Twins as a stereo- typical light-bodied, light- hitting utility infielder. When the Twins this spring signed Marwin Gonzalez, Adrianza became a backup utility player, which is like being an assistant to the assistant. Through May 11, he looked like a reincarnation of Pedro Florimon, batting .130 with a .185 slugging percentage. He might as well have been swinging an umbrella. Sunday, Adrianza hit a double and scored in the second and hit an RBI single in the fifth. In the ninth, he tripled home the tying run off All-Star closer Liam Hendriks before scoring the winning run on Kepler’s single. Since May 11, Adrianza is batting .384 with a .465 on-base percentage and a .562 slug- ging percentage, and he has played every position other than catcher and center field. His career numbers coming into this season: a .242 aver- age, .303 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage. Sunday, he started at first base in his continuing quest to become a valuable and confusing player. “He’s come through for us numerous times, and he’s come through in the biggest moments,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think he’s still growing as a player. I didn’t really know him coming into this season. He’s a really good player.” With the Giants, during his first four seasons in the majors, Adrianza says he weighed about 150 pounds. Now 195, the Venezuelan has the body of a gymnast and for the first time is display- ing the power of a corner infielder. “The last three years, I stayed here in the United States to work on my weight, and it’s helped me a lot,” he said. “If I didn’t do that, I don’t know where I’d be today.” His first season with the Twins ended at Yankee Sta- dium, when his new team blew another lead in yet another loss in the one-sided rivalry. The Twins have lost 10 consecutive playoff games to the Yankees. “I think we’ve got a pretty good team,” Adrianza said. “We like to play those guys. We like the competition. If we’re going to play in the playoffs, you want to face good teams. So we’re ready to play our best games these next three nights.” The Yankees arrive after a tumultuous nine-game, post-break stretch for the Twins, who won two of three at Cleveland, were swept in a two-game series by the awful Mets, then split a four-game series against a good A’s team. The Twins bullpen is tat- tered, but disco lights and outfield celebrations tend to enhance moods. “Just a lot of energy, man,” he said of the atmosphere in the clubhouse. “I think with this win, this team is lifted up a little bit.” The beautiful thing about a pennant race is that every day counts, and every player, too. Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. As Adrianza gets bigger, so do his contributions ø SOUHAN from C1 TWINS VS. N.Y. YANKEES SERIES PREVIEW Bombers on another roll T H R E E - G A M E S E R I E S AT TA R G E T F I E L D All games on FSN, 830-AM Monday, 7:10 p.m.: LHP Martin Perez (8-3, 4.10 ERA) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (5-4, 4.06) Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.: RHP Kyle Gibson (9-4, 4.02) vs. RHP Domingo German (12-2, 3.38) Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.: RHP Jake Odorizzi (11-4, 3. 18) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (8-5, 4.86) T W I N S U P D AT E The Twins (60-38), 13-16 over their past 29 games, lost two of three at Yankee Stadium in May. ... Of Max Kepler’s 24 home runs, 23 have come as a leadoff hit- ter, tops in the majors. … The Twins tied their 1969 and ’92 teams for the third-few- est games needed to reach 60 victories. … RHP Trevor May’s 49 pitches Sunday were his career high as a reliever. The bullpen was short, so May was asked to go a second inning. … Wednesday’s game will also be televised on ESPN. YA N K E E S U P D AT E The Yankees (64-34) are 21-10 all-time at Target Field, but the Twins have taken two of three at home in each of the past two seasons. … The Yankees are second in MLB in runs, fifth in home runs and fifth in on-base- plus-slugging percentage. This despite dealing with a rash of injuries. … OF Brett Gardner (sore left knee) is day-to-day. 1B Luke Voit is testing a helmet with a faceguard after being hit on the chin by a pitch Sat- urday. … 2B DJ LeMahieu is batting .343 during his eight-game hitting streak. La VELLE E. NEAL III Two of the best starting pitchers of the 1990s and 2000s, two standout desig- nated hitters and two of the best closers of all time — including Cooperstown’s first unanimous selection — went into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Their words moved the crowd on a sun-splashed day in upstate New York: FOREVER IMMORTALS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2019 Mariano Rivera MLB’s all-time saves leader was the last to speak — “I don’t understand why I always have to be last,” the Yankees great quipped, before adding: “It was a privilege and an honor to wear the pinstripes, and I did it with dignity honor and pride. I tried to carry the pinstripes as best I could. I think I did all right.” Brandy Halladay (for Roy Halladay, who died in 2017) The two-time Cy Young Award winner’s widow said: “I think that Roy would want everyone to know that people are not perfect. We are all imperfect and flawed in one way or another. We all struggle. But with hard work, humility and dedica- tion, imperfect people can still have perfect moments.” Mike Mussina The 18-year starter thanked his family and coaches, adding: “I was never fortunate to win a Cy Young Award or be a World Series champion, win 300 games or strike out 3,000 hitters. My opportunities for those achievements are in the past. Today, I get to become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. This time I made it.” Edgar Martinez The five-time Silver Slug- ger winner thanked Mari- ners fans for his election on his final writers’ ballot, add- ing: “This is a day I could never imagine happening when I was growing up in Puerto Rico. Honestly, there were times over the last 10 years I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I am so grateful and proud.” Lee Smith Smiling from beginning to end during his speech, the major leagues’ No. 3 all-time saves leader cred- ited his family and home- town of Castor, La. “I was 14 years old and I thought my future was basketball. It wasn’t just my arm that got me here. It’s the whole community of Castor. I thank you.” Harold Baines A man of few words, the longtime DH spoke of giving back, putting family ahead of everything else and working hard at your craft. Speaking of his dad, he said: “[He] taught me how to approach life. You work at it, you put your head down, you keep your mouth shut and you work at your craft day in, day out.” C2 • S TA R T R I B U N E S P O R T S M O N DAY, J U LY 2 2 , 2 0 1 9

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