Tag:Joe Mauer
Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:31 am
 

New GM Ryan to evaluate Twins medical staff

By Matt Snyder

There are some depressing numbers for the Twins in 2011. How about 63-99, the Twins' record? Yeah, that's bad. Negative 185 (the run differential) is pretty abysmal as well. What about the fact that only two position players appeared in more than 117 games during the season? Or the major-league leading 27 disabled-list stints? Yeah, it's all bad. And new general manager Terry Ryan is going to look into the health aspect.

"That needs to be talked about," Ryan said at his re-introductory press conference at Target Field (MLB.com). "We had a tough year in medical. We had a tough year in a lot of areas. Not only up here, but right through the system. We need to do some tweaking at the very least there. When it comes to communication, there are areas there that need to be addressed, and I plan on doing that. I know (former general manager) Bill (Smith) was in the process of doing that up until last week. He was worried about it, and I'm worried about it."

Ryan also made sure to keep the focus off the players, some of whom -- namely Joe Mauer -- have had their conditioning and toughness questioned by legions of fans.

Twins turnover
"The players can only take advice," Ryan said (MLB.com). "Players take the advice you give them. We not only give them an exam up here in the Twin Cities, but they're also welcome to get a second opinion. I would never put it on the players. It's our responsibility to take control of that, and we will."

The Twins certainly have more issues than health, but it would be idiotic to dismiss the concerns with the training staff. Bad luck is one thing; an entire team being injured for a whole season is quite another. Check out the number of games played from some of the supposed regular offensive players:

Mauer: 82
Justin Morneau: 69
Alexi Casilla: 97
Denard Span: 70
Jason Kubel: 99
Michael Cuddyer: 139

That's far too many games being missed from the bulk of the lineup. No one can dispute that.

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:43 am
 

Pepper: McKeon praises Ozzie; Moneyball ripped



By Evan Brunell

Ozzie: The dominant story Monday night and today is obviously Ozzie Guillen, who was released from his contract after Monday night's game.

It looks as if Guillen is headed to the Marlins to become their skipper, and that's just fine with outgoing manager Jack McKeon, who plans to retire (again) from managing. Guillen served under McKeon back in 2003, so the octogenarian has familiarity with the former White Sox infielder.

"I like Ozzie," McKeon told MLB.com. "I think he's a very, very intelligent manager. I think he was a very smart player. I think he'll do well. He's done well. I think he's a good man. I like him. He's a good baseball man."

McKeon continued, praising Guillen's ability to interact with players.

"I liked the way he was able to control the players, especially the Latin players," McKeon said. "He wasn't afraid to jump on them and encourage them, but also try to help him. He wasn't worried about being their friend. He'd tell it like it is. And that's Ozzie. That's what reminds me of another guy [Jack McKeon]. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

In a separate story, the Chicago Tribune wonders whether Guillen moving to the Marlins could open up a Carlos Zambrano deal to Florida. Zambrano and Guillen are close friends, and the Marlins are looking to jack up payroll and raise fan interest heading into a new stadium and a new identity. It's certainly feasible -- the Marlins will have money to spend and a desire to upgrade the pitching.

Ripping Moneyball:
Honestly, I'd rather not even waste time giving Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone publicity for this, but here goes: the two White Sox announcers ripped Moneyball despite not having read the book or seen the movie to CSNChicago.com. Credibility: out the window.

Hey, it's totally OK to rip things you disagree with. But to rip something with zero knowledge is ludicrous. (And no, being familiar with the "concept" of it or hearsay does not count.) Billy Beane isn't a perfect GM and he's made his share of mistakes, but that doesn't nullify the basic idea of Moneyball, which continues to be sadly unnoticed these days instead of the popular narrative of "Moneyball is about poor teams who love statistics and OBP and hate everything else!" Why are we still doing this in this day and age?

Oh, and according to Harrelson, playing like a kid is way better than putting up good statistics.

"You take Mark Buehrle, he has never lost his childlike qualities. That’s one reason he can go out there and throw an 86 miles-per-hour fastball and still compete and win."

Uh-huh. Or maybe Buerhle is really good at commanding the ball and inducing weak contact.

Nahhh.

Ted Williams movie? Could a movie be made about Ted Williams? Given the wealth of content of the Hall of Famer's life, a movie about Williams would be entertaining. John Underwood, who was a friend of Williams and wrote for years at Sports Illustrated, is developing a treatment he hopes can turn into something. With the success of Moneyball at the box office and Broadway wrapping up a play about Vince Lombardi, the time might be right. (Washington Times)

No charges: Juan Carlos Oviedo, a.k.a. Leo Nunez, will not face charges in the Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity. Given Oviedo came forward with the admission and cooperated with officials, he is getting a free pass. Only time will tell, though, if MLB will allow Oviedo back for 2012. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Moved
: Phil Hughes admits he isn't pleased with pitching out of the bullpen for the Yankees. The righty has struggled through a difficult year for the Yankees, with a recent back issue prompting the move to the 'pen. Even if Hughes would understandably prefer to start and although it depletes the Yanks' thin rotation, Hughes has a chance to make a major impact in the bullpen in October. In 2009, he was a lockdown reliever setting up Mariano Rivera. (MLB.com)

Signed: Omar Infante has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Marlins, worth $8 million. In his first year with the Marlins after coming over from Atlanta in the Dan Uggla deal, he hit .279/.317/.385 in 574 plate appearances. (MLB.com)

Returning: The Reds want to bring closer Francisco Cordero back, and he's pleased to hear that. There is a $12 million option on the closer's remaining deal, and it's not clear whether or not Cincy will pick the option up. A return for Cordero isn't surprising following a solid season in which he notched 35 saves. (MLB.com)

Back to Washington: If Jonny Gomes has his way, he'll be back with the Nationals after coming over from Cincinnati in a trade. Gomes hasn't quite impressed, but could be a strong bat off the bench for Washington next season. Gomes for his part says he would probably accept arbitration if the Nats offered it and believes the team will be "friggin' good." (Washington Post)

Where's Coco?
Coco Crisp wouldn't mind returning to the Athletics, but Oakland's free-agent machinations will depend on the outcome of the A's prospects of building a new stadium in San Jose. The A's will have competition if they want to bring Crisp back -- two sources say that San Francisco is expected to make a run at Crisp. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Looking ahead: Joe Mauer can't wait to put 2011 behind him, as the year represented a disappointment for both the club and Mauer, struggling with injuries and poor play. "You always want to do well when you put the uniform on," Mauer told MLB.com. "For me, my biggest goal is just to come back and be healthy. It's been a frustrating year. I haven't been healthy. Hopefully, we can do that as a whole. I'm talking about myself, but this whole room, we've kind of got the same thing going [with injuries]. My No. 1 goal is to just get healthy and just get ready for next year."

Lost season: Peter Moylan, a reliever for the Braves, missed months with a back injury. Finally back, Moylan got lousy news once more as he'll need surgery for a torn rotator cuff and labrum, which will be his third major surgery in four years. Moylan will miss about six months worth of time, so may not be ready for Opening Day. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 2:41 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Minnesota Twins

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Minnesota Twins
Record: 59-93, 29.5 games back in AL Central
Manager: Ron Gardenhire
Best hitter: Michael Cuddyer -- .280/.347/.460, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 66 R, 27 2B, 11 SB
Best pitcher: Scott Baker -- 8-6, 3.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 120 K, 131 2/3 IP

The 2011 season has to go down as one of the most disappointing in franchise history. The Twins had six division titles in the past decade, including 2009 and 2010. In 2011, they're in danger of 100 losses. And this wasn't because of sweeping losses to free agency or anything like that. In fact, the team coming back in 2011 was very similar to the 2010 AL Central champs. But we all know one major difference: Injuries.

2011 SEASON RECAP

The disastrous 13-3 opening day loss to the Blue Jays ended up being a harbinger of things to come, as the team accustomed to visiting the postseason would never even reach .500 during the 2011 season. By the middle of April, they were five games back and would never get closer. For a stretch in June and July, the Twins appeared to be returning to form. They won 15 of 17 games, but then lost six straight. They then ripped off 12 wins in 16 games to move to within five of first place on July 17. With the trade deadline approaching, it appeared a once-lost season was salvaged and the Twins were reportedly going to be buyers. Instead, they couldn't get close enough to the lead and mostly stayed pat.

And then the losing picked back up, as the Twins were 7-21 in August. In September, they've been downright awful, currently sitting at 2-14 in the month.

The highlights of the season were Francisco Liriano's no-hitter and Jim Thome slugging home runs No. 599 and 600 in the same game. But the Twins' season will be remembered for the injuries and underperformance. Only Michael Cuddyer has really had a good year for the position players. Superstars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer only combined to play 151 games due to various lingering injuries. Even when they played, both players had the worst offensive seasons of their respective careers. Aside from Cuddyer, only Danny Valencia and Ben Revere have played in at least 100 games (Jason Kubel is sitting at 99). The lack of stability has played out on the field, as only the Mariners have scored fewer runs in the AL. Other than Scott Baker, the starting pitching has been inconsistent at best and awful at worst. And the bullpen ranks dead last in the AL in ERA.

2012 AUDIT

It's easy to blame everything on injuries, but it's pretty evident a healthy Twins team still wouldn't have been able to keep up with the Tigers. Still, just having better fortune with health would drastically improve the product in 2012. Neither Mauer nor Morneau is really old, so one would expect bounce-back seasons from both -- though there's definite concern with Morneau's concussion issues and Mauer's durability behind the plate. Having full seasons from people like Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Alexi Casilla would be a huge boost as well.

Assuming natural progression to the norm from the players who underpermed and relatively better health in 2012, the Twins are still set up quite well. They have a strong farm system (ESPN.com had it ranked seventh before the season and Baseball America ranked it 12th, though Baseball Prospectus had it 15th) and a good core at the big-league level. The one issue that needs fixing from outside the organization is the pitching staff, specifically the bullpen. Still, do not be surprised to see the Twins right back in the thick of the AL Central race next season. They need some tweaks, but not wholesale changes.

FREE AGENTS

Michael Cuddyer, OF
Jason Kubel, OF
Matt Capps, RP
Joe Nathan, RP (team option)
Clay Condrey, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The first thing the Twins need to decide is where Mauer and Morneau fit. It's been reported that Morneau might be forced into mostly being a DH, due to lingering effects from his concussions. From there, the bullpen must be addressed and probably the starting rotation as well. Here are five main things that could help the Twins compete in 2012 with an eye on the future.
  • Move Mauer to first and Morneau to DH to help save their bodies and hope both return to previous form. If neither does, the Twins have serious financial problems.
  • Now that Mauer is at first base, catcher is a gaping hole. There aren't any real good catching prospects in the minors, so a veteran stopgap like Ramon Hernandez (who is a free agent) would make sense.
  • Keep both Kubel and Cuddyer to be the corner outfielders. Make Ben Revere the everyday center fielder and trust in his offensive development. This would free up Denard Span as trade bait for pitching help. The Nationals were rumored to want a new CF back at the trade deadline and Span's name was involved. The Nats have a few live, young arms at the back-end of the bullpen in Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Henry Rodriguez, any of whom would be a great fit between Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan. An alternative to these ideas is leaving Mauer behind the plate, playing Cuddyer at first, keeping Span and hoping to find bullpen help through free agency or minor trades. So pick one avenue.
  • Are they going to give Tsuyoshi Nishioka another shot? They probably need to try. Drastic improvement in his second American season would be a big boost.
  • A transition needs to be made from low-upside veterans in the rotation (Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing) to younger arms like Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson at some point. And they've got to hope Liriano and Pavano pitch better.
Of course, if the underperformance from and injuries to so many key players continues, the Twins will be forced into a major rebuild. For now, though, there's enough past evidence to believe that 2011 was just an anomaly for several reasons.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Mauer's season over with pneumonia

Joe MauerBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Mauer's season will end like it started -- out with an illness.

Mauer has been diagnoses with a case of pneumonia and has been told to rest for two weeks -- with just a week-and-a-half left in the season.

Mauer started the season with what the team called bilateral leg weakness and has also dealt with soreness and illness throughout the season, his worst since breaking into the big leagues.

It's been an incredibly disappointing season for both the Twins and Mauer, who finishes the season hitting .287/.360/.368 with three homers and 30 RBI in 82 games -- all of those marks other than RBI are career lows. He had just 17 RBI on six homers in 35 games as a 21-year-old in 2004.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Twins manager Ron Gardnehire spoke with Mauer earlier today and said he was "pretty upset."

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Morneau unsure of future; may switch to DH

Morneau
By Evan Brunell

Complications from concussions could push Justin Morneau to a DH role as early as 2012, the Minnesota Star Tribune writes.

"If that's something I need to do, and if that means being able to hit fourth and help this team win every day, I'll do it," Morneau, who has been out since Aug. 28 with a recurrence of concussion symptoms, said. "The last thing we need is to be out there tentative, and not being able to play the game the way it's supposed to be played."

While the 2006 A.L. MVP winner would love to stay at first, Morneau is more concerned with staying healthy. To that end, he would agree to DH for the team if it meant avoiding concussion symptoms or putting Joe Mauer in a better place to succeed. Mauer, who has also been beset by injuries this year, has played 18 games at the position this year, the first time he has played first in the majors.

"Whatever gives us the best chance to win," Morneau said. "If that's me playing first and him catching -- that's kind of why we're both signed here. But we need [Mauer's] bat in the lineup as much as we can. If that means him playing first base once a week, or whatever, let me DH."

Morneau's first concussion came in 2005 when Ron Villone of the Mariners plunked him in the head. That came on April 6 and caused him to miss 16 games although he was healthy the rest of the way. His second knock came last season on July 7. While trying to break up a double play, Morneau got kneed in the head by Toronto's John McDonald, which not only ended his season, but affected his preparation for 2011.

"I did the least amount of work I've done in my career last offseason because I was forced to, and I didn't feel like I was prepared," Morneau said. "I didn't feel as strong as I normally do, I didn't feel ready for the season, and I ended up having neck surgery, which is the last thing I wanted."

Now, after wading through a pinched nerve in his neck that required surgery and a left wrist strain, Morneau's got concussion problems again after diving for a double down the first-base line against the Tigers on Aug. 28.

"That's kind of what makes this whole thing scary," Morneau said of the latest aggravation. "It's a simple play, diving for a ball, that brought this stuff back again. So I don't know."

The latest setback has Morneau wondering about his future.

"That's one of those concerns for sure," he said. "I think that's something we'll revisit this winter, if not the next couple weeks, if this stuff continues. You never know. You put your trust in people who have experience who have studied this stuff their whole life and hope they're right."

Morneau has two years remaining on his six-year, $80 million deal. If the Twins opt to DH Morneau, they won't have much difficulty finding room for him. Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, corner outfielders who steal time at first and DH, will be free agents while Jim Thome and Delmon Young are already gone. The first-base/DH/corner outfield glut the Twins have dealt with for some time will not be an issue, which clears the way for Morneau to DH.

Does that mean Joe Mauer plays first? Possibly, but given Mauer's success behind the plate so far and the difficulty finding a viable catcher, it's more likely Minnesota goes after a first baseman next season. If Morneau's success bears out, it wouldn't be too difficult to flip the two first baseman between first and DH. That could actually benefit Morneau, who could work his way back from the concussion as DH on his own timetable, but still give him reps at first.

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:46 am
 

Pepper: Writing on wall for Guillen



By Matt Snyder


Is there any question this is Ozzie Guillen's last season as the White Sox manager? I'd say no.

The latest report is that Guillen emailed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf two weeks ago and texted general manager Kenny Williams Tuesday morning. He received replies from neither (Chicago Sun-Times). Granted, I've never been a major-league manager (I'm willing to give it a shot, if any GMs are interested), but I'm gonna go ahead and guess that being ignored when trying to correspond with your bosses is a pretty bad sign.

Remember, in recent weeks Guillen said he wanted to stay in Chicago, but not without a contract extension. And there was a report that indicated the relationship between Guillen and Williams had been irreparably damaged.

Guillen said he's ready for anything.

‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he said Tuesday (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’

The two cities he used in his example aren't just gathered at random. Venezuela is his home country. He also owns a home in Miami, but ... what else is there? Why, the Marlins, of course. A team Guillen helped coach to the 2003 World Series championship before being hired by the White Sox as manager. It's also a ballclub that is said to covet Guillen and is looking for a new manager this offseason before moving into a nice, new home.

It makes too much sense, doesn't it?

Tempers (kind of) flare in L.A.: So Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw an errant (and it appeared accidental) pitch near the head of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra. And then Parra hit a home run and took his sweet old time starting his home run trot. And then Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said a few words as Parra crossed the plate -- he looked more annoyed than angry, for whatever it's worth. A few Dodgers and Parra yelled back and forth while it appeared D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson said a few things, too, but then benches were warned and nothing else happened. I have to say, I'm with Ellis on this. I was watching live and sitting here thinking that it's just lame. Enough with the posturing. Play baseball.

Exit strategy? Potential new Astros owner Jim Crane has yet to be approved, even though it should have happened back in August. The approval process has been continually delayed and there are two separate camps of reports as to what the holdup is. One side says that Crane needs to accept a move to the American League West -- which would clear the way for season-long interleague play and likely an additional playoff team -- and the other says that this is not the specific holdup. Biz of Baseball wonders if Crane is just seeking a way out without being turned away by the MLB due to character concerns that have been raised during the approval process. In other words, if he backs out and uses not wanting to move to the AL as his reason, he was never turned down and saves face.

Braun accountable, even in victory: "Tonight was not a pretty game ... We didn't play well ... I think I probably played my worst 10 innings of baseball of the year ... I don't think we really deserved to win ... we really didn't play a good basball game." Those quotes are all cherry-picked from Ryan Braun's post-game comments (Brewers Blog). Oh, by the way, Braun hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the 11th. And in the parts of the above quotes I removed, Braun was saying to give all the credit to the pitching staff for keeping them in the game (the final score was 2-1). We're big fans of accountability here, so major points to Braun for not forgetting the rest of the game just because the team pulled out a victory. He could have easily only focused on being the hero in the 11th, instead he owned up to playing poorly for most of the night and instead wanted the pitchers to be viewed as the heroes of the game. That's an MVP teammate. While we're here, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller has a great feature on the Brewers. Check it out.

Great day for stat-heads: SeamHeads.com has now finished work on a Negro League database, so you can search for stats from players like Oscar Charleston, who by many accounts was one of the best players to ever play the game -- he just never had a chance to do so on the big stage due to unfortunate bigotry.

Mauer understands backlash: Joe Mauer has made quite a few commercials in the past few years and he has received some criticism over them during this season -- easily the worst of his career. He said that he understands this and he's not going to take on any more commercials for the time being (StarTribune.com).

Some "Moneyball" reviews: Here's a glowing review of the upcoming movie ... and here's a not-so-great review (he does say it's entertaining, just questions the direction taken). While I greatly respect the work of both writers, I don't really care what anyone says. I'm seeing it. If I don't like it, that's on me. 

St. Louis North? The Chicago Sun-Times floats a rumor that has the Cubs landing Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty -- who used to be the Cardinals' GM -- and then bringing Tony La Russa to manage the Cubs ... and then signing free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols. Of course, the report only said "could" and mentioned it was a scenario floated only on the Cubs' end, not mentioning whether or not all three parties would be interested in this. I personally think I have a better shot at winning the lottery than this happening.

No surgery for Dickey: Mets starting pitcher R.J. Dickey has suffered from a partially torn plantar fascia most of the season, but it has subsided enough that he won't need surgery this offseason. (MLB.com)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Bo Jackson launched his first career home run ... all 475 feet of it. Also, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg made his major-league debut 81 years ago and on this day in 2008, Carlos Zambrano threw his only career no-hitter. If you'll recall, it was a game in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros, as a hurricane moved the series. (Hardball Times)

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Amid criticism, Mauer to alter offseason training

By Matt Snyder

The 2011 season has been as forgettable as one can possibly imagine for Joe Mauer. The four-time All-Star and 2009 AL MVP is hitting just .287 with basically no power -- his .349 slugging percentage is worse than Alexi Casilla's, for example. Mauer has missed 62 games, and the worst part is this has caused questions about his toughness. He didn't break or pull anything, instead Mauer's been saddled with lingering injuries attached with terms like "soreness" and "weakness." It didn't help that this came on the heels of an offseason when Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million contract that might cripple the franchise if he doesn't return to 2009 form.

Further, Mauer's dedication to his teammates is being questioned, which is the worst possible question that could be asked about a team leader.

Sunday, ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the following about Mauer: "He probably is aware, too, that some of that unhappiness with his dedication exists within his own clubhouse, where his peers would be happy to see fewer Mauer commercials and more Mauer at-bats."

Mauer believes this is unfair.

"I think when I say 'unfair' it's more like, you know, like the other day -- questioning toughness," he explained (TwinCities.com). "Really, I mean, I'm not trying to sound (self-righteous), but how can somebody that's maybe been in the clubhouse once this year question toughness, and an athlete in general?"

Mauer also told reporters that he understands that he's going to be the one who takes the heat, being a former MVP and having that huge contract. He also has set the goal of entering 2012 the strongest he's ever been in his career. In fact, he has already made arrangements to upgrade his offseason training regimen.

"The biggest thing is having a regular offseason," Mauer said (StarTribune.com). "This year has been pretty tough for me, probably the toughest season I've been through, physically. Last year wasn't easy either. I had that heel injury and things kind if trickled down from that.

"It will be nice," he continued (StarTribune.com). "Hopefully I'll have somewhat of a normal offseason. I've got things in place. I've learned a lot over the last couple of years. I think I have the right people and program in place to have a good offseason."

Manager Ron Gardenhire sounds supportive, but firm, in speaking on Mauer's plans to work harder in the offseason.

"He realizes you can't sit around and do nothing as you get older. He's going to stay after it. We've talked about it," the manager said (TwinCities.com). "He's going to do some different things this winter, and prepare a little bit more and a little bit longer and come into spring training ready to go. That's the plan he has, and it's a good plan."

It's certainly going to be interesting to see how Mauer fares in 2012. It very well may be the most important season in determining whether or not his colossal contract was a mistake.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 23, 2011 1:39 am
 

Twins won't blame fan

Joe MauerBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Former Twin J.J. Hardy made the most of his second chance on Monday, giving the Orioles the lead in the fifth inning with a solo homer off of Carl Pavano. However, it looked as if Hardy would be retired when he fouled off the second pitch he saw  near the stands on the first-base side when a fan in a Joe Mauer jersey had the ball bounce off his hands as the real Mauer tried to lean over the railing to make the catch. Four pitches later, Hardy launched a fastball into the seats in left field for a 2-1 Baltimore lead.

Even though fans booed both Hardy and the fan for setting up the home run, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire refused to blame the fan. From Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune:

"The ball was in the stands," Gardenhire said. "If you're a fan, you've got two choices: reach up and catch the ball, or let it hit you in the head and hope that Mauer catches it.

"C'mon. If you're sitting there in the stands, you're going to try to catch the ball. It's the same way with [Steve] Bartman. You're going to try to catch the ball if you're a fan.

"You can't blame our fans for reaching up and catching the ball. You can boo him, like I heard, but they're going to try to catch it. Joe would have caught the ball. He had a chance to catch the ball, but that's not why we lost the game."

Hardy said he appreciated the help.

"Someone was saying he had a Hardy jersey on," Hardy joked to the Associated Press. "Any time you get a second chance, it's nice."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com