Chad Graff / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MANKATO, Minn. — On a rare summer vacation with his wife, Jeanette, a few weeks ago, Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano failed at his goal of leaving work at work, too pleased, he said, to contain his excitement. So, he gushed to Jeanette about his optimism for the team's beleaguered offensive line, pleased both with the talent and work ethic of a revamped unit that will go a long way in determining how successful the Vikings are this season. Perhaps more than anyone else, Jeanette was thrilled with the prospects of a strong offensive line.
ST. PAUL — Even if the Twins continue their current pace and remain just a few games out of the Central Division lead come the July 31 trade deadline, they "still might not do much," manager Paul Molitor said. On the eve of the all-star break, Molitor said the Twins are still in the early stages of deciding whether they'll be buyers or sellers come the deadline. On the one hand, he said, he has a desire to reward the current players who have largely exceeded expectations in amassing a 45-43 record entering the break.
MINNEAPOLIS — There's a chance Twins first baseman Joe Mauer doesn't play again until after next week's all-star break because of a recent back injury, but the team may not put him on the 10-day disabled list to ensure he's eligible to play in Houston on Friday, July 14, the first game of the second half. Mauer wasn't in the Twins' lineup Thursday, July 6, his second straight day sitting after suffering a lower-back injury running the bases Tuesday.
ST. PAUL — Six months after a 13-hour heart and kidney transplant, Twins legend Rod Carew wore a retro Twins jersey Monday and doffed his cap, back on a baseball diamond for the first time since a surgery he called life-changing. Fifteen months after suffering a heart attack, Carew received the organs of a deceased former NFL player in December and has now become an advocate for organ donors, returning Monday in part to share that message.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Twins next season will become the fifth team in major league history to host games in Puerto Rico when they play the Cleveland Indians in a two-game series in San Juan on April 17-18. The games will count as home games for the Twins, who were selected to host the first MLB games on the island in seven years.
BLAINE, Minn. — On one of his final trips to Minnesota, Arnold Palmer walked the TPC Twin Cities with a notebook in hand, drawing out plans for how he would update the Blaine golf course to make it suitable for a PGA Tour event. Now Hollis Cavner, organizer of the annual 3M Championship held there, and the course are trying to make the late Palmer's vision a reality. Partnered again with 3M, the group has made a bid to the PGA Tour to host a tournament in 2019, and it is optimistic it will be granted an event that could be held annually at TPC Twin Cities.
CHASKA, Minn. — After a successful showing as host of the Ryder Cup, Hazeltine National has been awarded the 2019 Women's PGA Championship, formerly known as the LPGA Championship. The tournament will be held June 20-23, the club said Friday, and hinted that more major-tournament golf could be on its way to the Chaska.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On Jan. 5, 2016, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher got a close-up look at Ryan Johansen, then a 23-year-old center with plenty of promise but enough baggage that the Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to trade him for a defenseman. That day 17 months ago, Fletcher sat a few booths down from Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen as the Wild played in Columbus. The two had chatted about a potential trade, but the Wild left Columbus with Fletcher either unwilling or unable to net Johansen, the type of big, scoring center they have long lacked.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—In the midst of a breakout campaign that made him a Vikings starter, Adam Thielen presumed he'd spend time in the offseason reflecting on the wild ride from small-town star at Minnesota State to the Vikings' leading receiver. But even with a new three-year, $27 million contract signed in the offseason, Thielen said the moment for reflection still hasn't come. Now, he's dedicated to proving last season wasn't a fluke. Thielen is a Detroit Lakes High School and Minnesota State University-Mankato graduate.
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.