Mauer’s (golf) swing still sweet
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Joe Mauer took a memorable swing Thursday, but it wasn’t with a baseball bat. The Twins first baseman collected a albatross — a 2 on a par-5 hole — from 236 yards out at The Colony while golfing with teammate Glen Perkins.
Now Mauer hopes to get his batting stroke in similar shape for the season ahead. But mindful of Mauer’s age (34 in April), injury history and experience at preparing for the regular season, Twins manager Paul Molitor decided to wait a week before putting the veteran into a Grapefruit League lineup.
The first of the Twins’ 35 preseason games takes place Friday night against the Rays at Hammond Stadium, but Kennys Vargas will man first base. Mauer’s first game won’t come until … “Would you believe Wednesday?” Molitor said.
That’s the plan, and it’s not just Mauer. Brian Dozier, too, will sit out the first few games; he’ll make his spring debut Sunday or Monday, Molitor said. And catcher Jason Castro, while in Friday’s lineup, won’t play much until March, either.
“It’s trying to do the right thing, [mindful] of the fact that we have a long spring,” Molitor said. “I’m not in a hurry to get him out there, given the fact that March 1 will be 33 days [until the season opener]. Joe’s about ramping up, as opposed to needing 60 or 70 at-bats, as least that’s my impression.”
It’s unusual for Grapefruit League games to start in February, but the spring calendar was lengthened this year to allow players to take part in the World Baseball Classic next month. So there is no sense in overworking yourself with six weeks to camp still to come, Dozier said.
“It’s a loooong spring. We’re going to be here for a while,” Dozier said. “I’m still going to get plenty of playing time. I’ll be ready, don’t you worry.”
• Molitor said he still is mulling his lineup for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against the Rays, but his first draft looked like this: Byron Buxton CF, Jorge Polanco SS, Miguel Sano 3B, Vargas 1B, Byung Ho Park DH, Max Kepler RF, Eddie Rosario LF, Jason Castro C, Ehire Adrianza 2B. Kyle Gibson will pitch the first two innings, followed by one inning each from Brandon Kintzler, Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle, Justin Haley, Nick Tepesch and Michael Tonkin.
• The Twins will put single-game tickets on sale to the public beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at Target Field, at twinsbaseball.com, on the MLB At Bat app, or by calling 612-33-TWINS.
First baseman/designated hitter
2016 stats: Batted .231 with two homers in 31 games for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
Acquired: Signed minor league contract Dec. 21.
Role: Could be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know: Hague, who has appeared in 43 major league games with the Pirates and Blue Jays, was the Class AAA International League MVP in 2015 after batting .338 for Buffalo, the Jays’ top farm club. He was sold to Hanshin for $300,000.