Chad Graff / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — In the first few weeks after the Lynx lost the WNBA championship by a single point in October, point guard Lindsay Whalen wished she had joined so many other professional women's basketball players overseas, where a larger paycheck and another basketball season await. But for the second straight year, after nine consecutive playing internationally, the 34-year-old Minnesotan took the offseason off in an attempt to return to the Lynx refreshed and ready to go.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In the days leading to his rookie tryout with the Vikings, Tommy Armstrong, the former Nebraska quarterback, has spent lots of time watching video of Braxton Miller, his former Big Ten foe who successfully transitioned from Ohio State signal caller to Houston Texans wide receiver.
ST. PAUL—The Wild's two most important pending free agents failed to score in the team's first-round playoff loss to the St. Louis Blues, prompting questions about whether general manager Chuck Fletcher can commit long-term contracts to Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. While both excelled during the regular season — Granlund finished second on the team in goals (26), Niederreiter third (25) — the pair has combined to score just two goals, one apiece, in the past 11 playoff games on a team desperate for postseason success.
By the time the Wild's regular season was over, Marco Scandella was eager to turn the page. Happy that his team recorded the best season in franchise history, the defenseman was ready to move on from what was an underwhelming individual performance. Scandella's ice time was the lowest in any season during which he played at least 20 games, and his four goals were the fewest since his first season as an everyday player in 2013-14.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins aren't ready to send Byron Buxton to the minors, Paul Molitor said, but the manager admitted he's heard the debate over whether the center fielder's excellent defense is worth his dismal performance at the plate. Buxton was 0 for 2 on Thursday afternoon in the Twins' 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, leaving him with four hits in 49 at bats to go with an American League-high 24 strikeouts.
MINNEAPOLIS - Carlos Santana had three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles, and Trevor Bauer had his best outing of the season for the Cleveland Indians in a 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon. Bauer (1-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings and struck out seven batters while allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Abraham Almonte had two hits for Cleveland, which swept Minnesota in the three games of the series after Wednesday's game was postponed.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins' postponed game Wednesday means they'll pitch their ace Thursday afternoon in the series finale against Cleveland while missing the Indians' best starting pitcher. Adalberto Mejia was scheduled to start for the Twins on Wednesday, but the game was postponed because of weather. The Twins decided to skip Mejia's start and put Ervin Santana on the mound for Thursday's 12:10 p.m. start.
ST. PAUL — A year ago after the Minnesota Wild were bounced from the first round of the NHL playoffs, the organization's most anticipated prospect since Mikko Koivu sat down with general manager Chuck Fletcher to pick up the pieces from a disappointing season. Three full seasons into his NHL career, 25-year-old Finn Mikael Granlund still hadn't produced more than 13 goals or 44 points in a season. Yet he drew optimism and a chuckle out of Fletcher when the two discussed moving Granlund from center to wing for good.
MINNEAPOLIS — Case Keenum was only a practice squad player with the St. Louis Rams in 2014, but he remembers sharing video study sessions with Sam Bradford, who sat out all of that season with a knee injury. Impressed by Bradford, Keenum watched from afar the next season as his former teammate passed for 3,725 yards in 14 games with the Philadelphia Eagles. And now that he has signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vikings to become Bradford's backup, Keenum said he can't wait to be reunited with his former teammate.
MINNEAPOLIS—On the eve of Opening Day, Brian Dozier, the lone bright spot on a 103-loss Twins team a year ago, admitted that extra attention will be paid to the way this remarkably similar team begins the 2017 season Monday afternoon when they host the Kansas City Royals. Part of that is because the Twins buried themselves and foreshadowed a grueling season a year ago when they opened with nine losses their first nine games on their way to the worst record in Major League Baseball.