Tag:Joe Mauer
Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 4:00 pm

Mauer finally, officially activated by Twins

By Matt Snyder

After Thursday afternoon's win against the White Sox, the Twins officially announced Joe Mauer will come off the disabled list in time for Friday's game. The move was expected, but for it to finally be official has to lift a giant, Target Field-sized weight off the collective chests of Twins fans, players and management.

It almost seemed like the day would never come. Mauer hasn't played for the Minnesota Twins since April 12. We've heard about bilateral leg weakness, a viral infection, shoulder issues and then Mauer himself disputing the term bilateral leg weakness. There was never really a timetable, and he worked through his rehab very slowly, all the while hearing whispers about his toughness.

But he's back now. If he can play anywhere close to the way he played to finish in the top 10 of MVP voting four times -- and winning it once -- the Twins just received a gigantic upgrade. That 8-1/2-game deficit in the AL Central isn't unworkable, either.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 15, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 7:48 pm

Nishioka back for Twins, Mauer to return Friday

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, out since April 7 after suffering a broken fibula, returns to the Twins tonight, taking the roster slot of Justin Morneau, who was put on the DL with a wrist injury.

The Twins will be  getting catcher Joe Mauer and former closer Joe Nathan back soon, as well. Mauer will return to the Twins for Friday's game against the Padres, while Nathan will likely go to Triple-A before returning to the Twins, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters before Wednesday's game.

Nathan (elbow) threw 30 to 40 pitches to Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) on Wednesday morning, and both players told the Fort Myers News-Press that they expect to return to Minnesota soon. 

Nathan said he would be leaving for Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon along with Mauer, but Nathan will still get some minor-league time before pitching for the Twins.

"It was a lot longer than I had hoped," Mauer told the paper about his rehab. "But I got my work in, and I worked with a lot of great people down here. It was nice, but obviously I want to be up there in Minnesota and be up there playing. I feel like I'm ready to get out of here."

Nishioka was the Twins' biggest offseason pickup, and played just six games before his injury. He was now had more rehab games than big league games, going 4 for 12 for both the Twins high-Class A team and for their Triple-A team, playing four and three games, respectively.

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Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 1:03 pm

Mauer to skip Triple-A, may be back Thursday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tsuyoshi NishiokaJoe Mauer could be back as soon as Thursday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters on Sunday.

Mauer will catch games Sunday and Monday for Class A Fort Myers and possibly Tuesday. Then he'll bat against Joe Nathan on Wednesday and could be back in Minneapolis by Thursday.

Mauer will not play at Triple-A Rochester before being activated. Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka is playing for the Red Wings on Sunday.

Gardenhire had said he wanted Mauer to play against Triple-A before coming up, just so he could see better pitching and fastballs.

"He can count on one hand how many fastballs he's seen since he's been playing down there, and that's kind of one of those reasons you might want to send him to Triple-A," Gardenhire told reporters, including John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He might see some fastballs down there. There are some veteran guys who might know how to mix it up there. Those kids, they'll just be winging breaking balls all over the place."

Mauer's played in just nine games this season, going to the disabled list in April with what the team called "bilateral leg weakness." 

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:29 pm

Best first-round picks of the last decade

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the MLB Draft beginning Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, the Eye on Baseball crew is going to look at the best -- and worst -- first-round draft picks by each team in the last 10 years. 

With the way the baseball draft goes, there are plenty of busts in the first round every year, but there are a lot of great players in the game that were drafted in the first round and the supplemental first round. Tomorrow we'll look at the misses, but for today, here are the hits.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Most first overall picks make the majors and many (Alex Rodrgiuez, Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones) find their way to superstardom. Justin Upton may not be a superstar yet, but the first overall pick of the 2005 draft already has one All-Star appearance under his belt and will probably have more to come.

Atlanta Braves: With the 14th pick in the 2007 draft, the Braves took a local kid, outfielder Jason Heyward. Nice pick.

MLB Draft

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters is close to taking this spot, but for now it's still Nick Markakis, who was taken with the seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft out of Young Harris College in Georgia.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox had five picks in the first round and the supplemental first round in 2005, and as good as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie are, the pick here is right-hander Clay Buchholz, taken 42nd overall out of Angelina College.

Chicago Cubs: While his name is now a cautionary tale, it's easy to forget just how good Mark Prior was before arm trouble. Drafted with the second pick of the 2001 draft, he won six games in 2002 and 18 in 2003, his best season. Overall, Prior was 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA.

Gordon BeckhamChicago White Sox: Even with his struggles last year and this season, Gordon Beckham has been a productive player for the White Sox after he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Cincinnati Reds: Taken out of high school with the 12th overall pick in 2005, Jay Bruce is the reigning National League Player of the Month and only seems to be getting better at 24. He already has 85 homers in his career, including a National League-best 17 this season.

Cleveland Indians: How bad have the Indians' first-round picks been the last decade? The 18 players taken by Cleveland in the first round and the supplemental first round over the last 10 years have collected just 506 games in the majors, 334 for Cleveland. Lonnie Chisenhall (29th overall in 2008) may eventually be their best in this list, but for right now it's the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie, who at least has 40 big-league wins.

Colorado Rockies: While the Indians' choice was tough, the Rockies' wasn't -- Troy Tulowitzki was taken with the seventh overall pick in 2005.

Detroit Tigers: With the second pick in 2004, the Tigers took Justin Verlander.

Florida Marlins: The team's best pick of the last decade came in the fourth round of the 2002 draft when it took high school pitcher Josh Johnson, but as far as first-round picks, their best is right-hander Chris Volstad, taken with the 16th pick of the 2005 draft.

Chris BurkeHouston Astros: The Astros didn't have first-round picks in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and haven't had much production from any of them. There's really just two choices, Chris Burke (10th overall, 2001) and Jason Castro (10th overall, 2008). Castro has potential, but is out this season and has played in just 67 big league games, so the pick is Burke, who played in parts of six seasons with three teams, but his 18th-inning walk-off homer (left) to clinch the 2005 NLDS against the Braves is one of the franchise's signature moments.

Kansas City Royals: This choice could be much more difficult in five years, but for now it's pretty easy -- Zack Greinke. The Royals selected him sixth overall in the 2002 draft and he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jered Weaver was the 12th pick of the 2004 draft.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers took lefty Clayton Kershaw with the seventh pick of the 2006 draft out of a Texas high school.

Milwaukee Brewers: This could change in a couple of years, but for now, Prince Fielder (seventh overall, 2002) leads Ryan Braun (fifth overall, 2005). Fielder is a free agent this offseason, while Braun is under contract through 2020.

Minnesota Twins: There were those who questioned the pick of hometown boy Joe Mauer with the first pick in the 2001 draft instead of Prior. Not anymore.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon may not think he's a franchise player, but David Wright is the team's best first-round pick in the last decade, taken with the 38th overall pick in 2001.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have plenty of first-round picks on their roster, although few were their picks. Two key pitchers, starter Phil Hughes (23rd overall in 2004) and reliever Joba Chamberlain (41st overall in 2006), were Yankee picks. The pick here is Chamberlain, who has allowed fewer runs in a similar number of innings and is currently pitching.

Oakland Athletics: A chapter of the book Moneyball focuses on the 2002 MLB Draft and Billy Beane's distaste of drafting high school players. In the book, the team is excited the Brewers take a player they won't touch (Fielder), and the team also doesn't want Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels or Matt Cain -- all high school player. But they get the man they want the most, Nick Swisher at No. 16. It's a good pick, as is Joe Blanton at 24 -- but it's hardly Greinke, Fielder, Hamels or Cain. The team also picked Jeremy Brown, a catcher out of Alabama, and Mark Teahen in the supplemental round. 

Philadelphia Phillies: Another pick from the Moneyball draft, the pick after the A's took Swisher, the Phillies snatched up Hamels, the left-hander from a California high school with the 17th pick.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The 2005 draft featured six players listed as center fielders taken in the first round -- and all six have made the big leagues. The second one taken was the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen with the 11th overall pick. The others were Cameron Maybin (10), Bruce (12), Trevor Crowe (14), Ellsbury (23) and Colby Rasmus (28).

San Diego Padres: The Padres may have had one of the biggest busts of the last decade in Matt Bush, the first overall pick in 2004 draft, but he's not been their only bad pick. The best of the lot was Khalil Greene, taken No. 13 in 2002, who had a promising start of his career, but his troubles with social anxiety disorder drove him from the game. Still, he's the Padres' career leader in homers by a shortstop with 84.

San Francisco Giants: Nine teams passed on the right-hander out of Washington, some scared off by his funky motion and small stature. Tim Lincecum proved them wrong.

Evan LongoriaSeattle Mariners: Adam Jones (37th pick in 2003) played in just 73 games for the Mariners, but was named an All-Star and won a Gold Glove with the Orioles in 2009.

St. Louis Cardinals: With a compensation pick for the Red Sox signing Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals used the 28th pick of the 2005 draft to take Rasmus out of an Alabama High School.

Tampa Bay Rays: Were Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds better than Evan Longoria? The Royals and Rockies took those two right-handers with the first two picks of the 2006 draft, leaving Longoria (left) for the Rays.

Texas Rangers: Funny story here -- in 2001 I was working at the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia and was covering the NCAA Regional in Athens when a Teixeira-led Georgia Tech squad was bounced from the tournament. After his last game, a kid from the student radio station asked Teixeira if he thought his poor showing in the regional would hurt his draft status. The Georgia Tech coach, Danny Hall, took the microphone before Teixeira could answer and said, "No." So did the Rangers, who took him fifth overall.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays took lefty Ricky Romero out of Cal State Fullerton with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft.

Washington Nationals: Another pick that could change with the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but that's still several years away because of the fourth pick of the 2005 draft,  Ryan Zimmerman.

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Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 4:00 pm

Mauer, Nishioka hitless in extended spring game

By Matt Snyder

Apparently Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka would blend in perfectly with the guys currently suiting up for the Twins. The hobbled duo suited up and played in an extended spring training game Thursday and went hitless. Mauer was able to catch three innings but failed to gather a hit in five at-bats. Nishioka played nine innings in the field and is now reportedly 1-14 in the work he's gotten at extended spring. Only the Mariners have a worse team batting average in the AL than the Twins (.238).

The good news is that Mauer was able to come through his catching with seemingly no issues, and after the game he reiterated his desire to stay behind the plate.

"I've been asked that question ever since I was 20 years old. My answer hasn't changed. I'm 28 years old, I signed for eight years to play catcher. I don't see any reason to change now." (David Dorsey via Twitter)

Dorsey also reported that Nishioka looked good in the field and doesn't seem to be suffering any lingering effects from the injury. He broke his leg within one week of the season's beginning and is working his way back.

Neither can be considered close to a return until they start a rehab assignment. It's slow progress until that happens.

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 9:17 pm

No plans to move Joe Mauer off of catcher

By Evan Brunell

MauerJoe Mauer, who hasn't played since April 12, still has no timetable for a return from bilateral leg weakness, but whenever the former MVP does return, it will be behind the plate.

"He signed an eight-year deal to catch in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. "So we're trying to get him back as a catcher. If it doesn't work out when he comes back, then we're going to have to figure somewhere else. And that's a lot harder than everybody makes it out to be, because we have some corner people that are pretty good baseball players."

Those who move out from behind the plate tend to shift to first base -- ably filled in by Justin Morneau currently, although he's struggling this season with a pinched nerve in his shoulder -- and some even move to third base, as Pablo Sandoval did. There are exceptions. Craig Biggio, who will enter the Hall of Fame in a matter of years, made the transition from backstop to second baseman.

The Twins don't have anyone blocking Mauer at third but are sticking with Danny Valencia at the spot for now. Plus, they have top prospect Miguel Sano plying his trade down on the farm.

"(Mauer) could play anywhere," Gardenhire added. "He played the infield as a young player. We can make him the tallest shortstop since Cal Ripken. Right now, he's a catcher, and that's where he's going to be until Joe says, 'I can't do it anymore' or we deem him not physically able to do that. But we believe he is. He just needs to get healthy."

Mauer has been DHing in extended spring training but still hasn't received regular time behind the plate. He's been doing catching and throwing drills, but that's about it, and it has been a long and frustrating rehab.

"There is no top secret date," Gardenhire said. "There is no specific date to do anything other than day-to-day. Once he gets out there, the player will eventually tell us. We wrote a script on how to get him into position to play; once he starts playing, it's going to be a few innings here, a few innings there and gradually start building up to it."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 1, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 4:56 pm

Mauer to catch extended spring game Thursday

By Matt Snyder

In yet another positive step of the rehab program that has seemingly dragged on forever, Twins catcher Joe Mauer will catch a few innings in an extended spring training game Thursday (Twins PR via Twitter). Mauer's been used only as a designated hitter since he started taking part in extended spring games several days ago. It's important to make a distinction between these games and a minor-league rehab assignment. Extended spring training is where young players are still taking part in controlled scrimmage-type games and veterans are sent to rehab injuries before beginning official rehab stints -- which are limited to 30 days.

The news boils down to this: It's a good sign that Mauer's body is ready for him to catch in a game-like setting, but it's still not an indication that he's close to returning.

In fact, Mauer's injury was initially said to be leg weakness and then reportedly was exacerbated by a viral infection. Later he had trouble strengthening the rest of his body and had back issues. Now the Twins are saying there's a shoulder issue. For whatever it's worth, Will Carroll at SI.com -- an injury expert -- said in a column Wednesday that "this does not reflect well on the Twins. Mauer should have been back by now given the information we had."

The Twins and Mauer certainly aren't in any rush, but considering this appears to be a lost season, they might as well take every precaution that he doesn't come back too soon and risk further injury.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 1, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 4:03 pm

AL All-Star balloting update: Bautista tops all

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday, Major League Baseball unveiled the first update on the All-Star balloting for the National League, so Wednesday we found out the American League update. Needless to say, non-Yankees fans won't be happy, but we'll get to that in a second. The big story is that the fans nailed the top overall vote-getter (that goes for both leagues). Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays leads the majors in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS-plus and total bases. You can add top vote-getter to the list for now, because he's gathered 1,261,659 votes. If this holds, he'd become the first Blue Jays player ever to receive the most votes and the first to start the game since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

As things stand now, here are the would-be AL starters: Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson -- yes, those are actually the leaders in votes; I didn't accidentally start listing the Yankees' starters -- Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young (DH).

So, yeah. Six Yankees starters if this was the final version. Here are some observations:

- Asdrubal Cabrera trails Jeter by about 260,000 votes at short. I guess I'm not shocked for several reasons. First of all, the voting began pretty early in the season and Cabrera was a relative unknown when it started. Secondly, you have Jeter and the whole chase for 3,000 hits thing going on. Third, it's the Yankees. If this is a lifetime achievement thing, OK, but if we're looking at just 2011, it's egregious. Cabrera's been the big offensive force for the most surprising team in baseball -- one that has the best record in the AL.

- Teixeira's having a big power year and him starting the game wouldn't be completely undeserved, but I'd rather go with Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera there. If you have a problem with Cabrera's off-field issues in the spring, well, vote for Gonzalez or Tex.

- Third could shape up to be a real good battle between A-Rod, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis -- who were all probably helped by the injury to Evan Longoria.

- Martin is the correct selection behind the plate. Oh, and Joe Mauer's second in voting (tsk, tsk).

- Granderson certainly deserves to start and Cano probably does as well. So Yankees haters need to lay off these guys.

- The outfield voting isn't awesome, that's for sure. Hamilton has been hurt most of the season and sits third. Matt Joyce isn't even in the top 15, nor are Carlos Quentin, Adam Jones, Michael Brantley or Alex Gordon. But Ichiro Suzuki, Nelson Cruz and Carl Crawford are all in contention.

View the full voting results by clicking here.

There are obviously a lot more issues, but it's the initial ballot release and many of the votes were cast when it was released without having a good grasp of how the 2011 season would turn out. Fortunately, there's still time to support your guys and rectify any problems you might have. Voting doesn't end until the end of June.

Click here to cast an online ballot.

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