The rained-out game between the Twins and Orioles on Monday washed out the debut of Joe Mauer as a leadoff hitter.
But Twins manager Paul Molitor indicated after the game was called that it was not a one-day fling. He is committed to taking a look at the batter order with Mauer and his .420 on-base percentage on top of it.
“I’m pretty open to see how it plays out,” Molitor said. “I’m a little curious. There’s some logic to it, given the fact where we are. I want to see how it goes, whether I change against lefties and or I let it ride for a couple days.”
Baltimore will start righthanded pitchers the next two days, and Cleveland has a rotation dominated by righthanders. So the lefthanded-hitting Mauer could be atop the batting order for the next several games.
Mauer has never had a problem with batting leadoff — it just hasn’t happened.
“I told [Molitor] a long time ago that whatever gives us the best chance to win and score some runs I’m all for it,” said Mauer, who has appeared in 1,487 major league games, none as the leadoff hitter.
Mauer is batting .299, and his .420 OBP entered Monday leading the American League. That made him the best candidate on the team for the position. And Mauer is batting .450 — with a .607 OBP and a 1.257 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) — in the first inning.
“We all know Joe has been doing that extremely well,” Molitor said of Mauer getting on base. “You can make the argument that Joe is our best one hitter, two hitter and three hitter. We’ve tried two and three and now we are going to try one.”
Mauer didn’t know he was in the leadoff spot until reporters asked him about it before the rainout, but he said Molitor discussed it with him a few days ago. And Mauer couldn’t remember the last time he batted leadoff — on any level. “It might be the first time,” he said.
The Twins are averaging 3.41 runs per game. Their total of 106 runs is 25th in the majors, and they hit .214 during their recently completed six-game road trip, including .226 with runners in scoring position.
Hence Mauer’s debut as a leadoff hitter.
“Just try to have good at-bats,” Mauer said. “For me, maybe it gives me another at-bat at the end [of games]. Hopefully we shake things up and get the offense going.”
Signs of a comeback
Twins closer Glen Perkins, who has not pitched in a game since blowing a save April 10 at Kansas City, said he began playing catch over the weekend and is making progress toward a return.
Perkins, on the 15-day disabled list because of a left posterior shoulder strain, said he plans to throw from 90 feet on Tuesday as he slowly builds up distance. Eventually, he will work his way up to throwing in the bullpen.
Perkins might be several days away from that, but playing catch shows he has turned a corner in his recovery.
• Lefthander Ryan O’Rourke cleared waivers and was assigned by the Twins to Class AAA Rochester. There’s no word on the fate of righthander J.R. Graham, who also was designated for assignment. Both moves were announced Friday, but they might not have been executed on the same day.
• Lefthander Tommy Milone, who cleared outright waivers last week, also has joined Rochester.
• Former Twins righthander Casey Fien, who was placed on waivers late last week and claimed by the Dodgers, was sent to Class AAA Oklahoma City.