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Souhan on Sports

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Mauer's days off don't even attract attention now

Something strange happened at the ballpark on Tuesday.

Joe Mauer was given a day off. And not a day off after a night game, or a day off after getting hit in the head by a pitch. He was given a day off after an off day.

Here's what's strangest: Nobody asked about it.

The modern baseball press corps is large. Tuesday marked the Twins returning from a successful road trip, in first place, and with no other major sporting events drawing reporters to other stories.

There were multiple TV cameras and the usual blend of print and online reporters. Manager Paul Molitor's office was crowded.

Mauer was out of the lineup. On a night after a day off. And nobody asked about it.

Everyone knew what the answer to the question would be: Molitor would say, as he has before, that he's looking for days to rest Mauer, and he might as well do it against a tough lefthander.

Remember when Twins fans screamed when Mauer was given a day off after a night game?

I didn't see a single mention on social media about this day of rest.

Despite hitting his first walkoff homer, Mauer is having a terrible season at the plate. He's on pace to set career-worsts in every major category.

It's not that no one cares about Mauer's decline. It's just that his struggles have become routine.

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6 p.m. tonight we're doing the Russo-Souhan Show at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, leading into Barb Abney's Music From Hell. Please stop by, or listen later at MNSPN.com.

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Souhan: Not Lynx style in opener; Buxton hits wall again

Monday morning musings:

-One of the reasons I like covering the Lynx is that the basketball is so often fundamentally sound and beautiful to watch, in terms of ball movement and unselfishness.

Didn't see much of that Sunday night, in the team's WNBA opener. It was ugly basketball. Maya Moore went 1-for-11 from the three-point line, and I think that altered the team's offensive flow. If Moore had made her usual quota of shots, Chicago's defense probably would have loosened and we might have seen what we usually see from the Lynx. But that didn't happen.

In the absence of excellent ball movement and shooting, the Lynx was dependent on Sylvia Fowles' inside game. And while Cheryl Reeve was rightly frustrated with Fowles' lack of defensive rebounding, Fowles' offensive game and offensive rebounding won the game.

-I was covering the Twins beat when Torii Hunter was drafted, and I covered the team extensively during Hunter's Twins' tenure. He demonstrated immediately that he would run into any wall at any speed to make a dramatic catch.

We're seeing the same attitude and skill set from Byron Buxton. If he's not the best centerfielder in the game, and he probably is, he is at least the most spectacular.

But he needs to start exercising caution.

He was just starting to hit when he ran into the wall multiple times on the last homestand. Those collisions with the Target Field wall threw him off his game and halted his progress.

The Twins still need Buxton to be an impact five-tool player. And running into fences will continue to hamper his ability to become the hitter he should be.

It's a difficult calculation for a young player. Buxton wants to command his teammates' respect, wants to help his pitchers, wants to win games with his glove. And he has. The Twins' outfield defense may be the team's most obvious strength, aside from Miguel Sano's bat.

But the Twins need him to be a middle of the lineup hitter. And if he keeps slamming into walls, his progress may continue to be slow.

-Next live show for MNSPN.com: 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hell's Kitchen it's the Russo-Souhan Show. Please stop by.

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