Oct 29, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws a pitch against the Washington Nationals in the second inning in game six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Twins were among the 15 to 20 teams that were in attendance for veteran righthander Justin Verlander’s workout Monday in Florida. Verlander threw approximately 25 pitches, according to reports, and clocked in between 94 to 97 miles per hour. The Astros gave Verlander a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer but he could still test free agency. He missed all of this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2020 season. It will be interesting to see if a team attempts to sign the 38-year-old Verlander before the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Dec. 1.
Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had to be happy to hear that Odell Beckham Jr., is headed to the Los Angeles Rams. There was speculation Jefferson’s good friend and fellow former LSU receiving star might sign with the Green Bay Packers, but Jefferson told reporters that he told Beckham not to sign with Minnesota’s biggest rival. “I love Aaron Rodgers. I love Davante Adams,” Jefferson said Thursday before the news of Beckham to the Rams broke. “It would be a good mix for him, but I definitely don’t want to see it.” The Vikings will see Beckham and the Rams the day after Christmas at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings’ Rick Spielman was one of five NFL general managers and 38 scouts and executives who was reportedly scheduled to be at the Pitt-North Carolina game on Thursday night at Heinz Field. Spielman’s former assistant, Broncos general manager George Paton, also was expected to be on hand to watch North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett.
While first-round pick Christian Darrisaw has played well since taking over at left tackle, you have to wonder if Spielman (and ownership) are second-guessing the decision to trade back from 14th to 23rd and pass on Alabama QB Mac Jones. Jones was taken by the Patriots with the 15th pick and is considered to be the top rookie quarterback so far in this class. Jones would have spent this season behind Kirk Cousins in Minnesota but would have been in position to take over next season, enabling the Vikings to explore trading Cousins.
The Vikings could will be without nose tackle Michael Pierce and linebacker Anthony Barr for Sunday’s game against the Chargers. Pierce has missed the past four games because of an elbow injury, and Barr has been limited to four games because of a knee injury that has bothered him since training camp. Barr had a key interception in overtime on Sunday against the Ravens, but he was in for all 98 snaps in that game. Best case: The Vikings are resting Barr so he can play Sunday.
It came as no surprise that former Timberwolf Andrew Wiggins put together a 35-point effort and some impressive dunks over ex-teammate Karl-Anthony Towns in Golden State’s 123-110 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night in San Francisco. Wiggins, who was dealt to the Wolves in the Kevin Love trade after being the first-overall pick in the 2014 draft by Cleveland, has plenty of talent but his desire only shows up on special occasions. That means if he plays a former team, he can put on a show. Otherwise, Wiggins’ focus is usually elsewhere, and that’s why the Wolves finally traded him in February 2020.
The Wolves’ season has been a disappointment thus far — what’s new? — and the team will take a six-game losing streak into back-to-back games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Saturday. At least Anthony Edwards kept things interesting against the Warriors by scoring a career-high 48 points with five rebounds and five assists. Edwards hit on on seven three-pointers.
Former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who was bought out after last offseason, has a goal and five assists and is a minus-5 in 12 games for the Dallas Stars. The Stars are 4-6-2 with 10 points, putting them eight back of the first-place Wild in the Central Division entering Thursday’s games. Dallas has yet to post a regulation win — the only NHL team to not have one — and has lost six of seven. After a 4-2 loss to Nashville on Wednesday night, the Stars held a players only meeting.
Suter is averaging 22 minutes, 54 seconds of ice time per game, putting him second among Stars defenseman to Miro Heiskanen (24:52). Suter’s ice time is 43 seconds more than he averaged last season but below the 24:38 he averaged each game in 2019-20.
The Wild jumped from 19th to seventh in ESPN’s most recent NHL power rankings. The top six teams are Florida, Carolina, Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis and Washington.