SAN FRANCISCO – The All-Star catcher, a former MVP, is feeling the effects of all those innings behind the plate, all those foul tips and wear on the legs. Maybe he should move to first base, the fans are increasingly wondering.
Sound familiar, Twins fans?
Joe Mauer arrived at AT&T Park on Friday as the role model, in many fans’ minds, of what should be done with Buster Posey. The Giants catcher, the National League’s Most Valuable Player two seasons ago, has been suffering from nerve irritation in his lower back, an injury that should fade — but might not be gone for good.
“If I had any advice [for Posey], I’d say ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, you’ve had a pretty good career so far,’ ” Mauer said of his other-league doppelgänger. “But if things happen, you make adjustments.”
The Giants made that adjustment, moving Posey to first base Friday to let his back improve, but the move was made easier by the absence of regular first baseman Brandon Belt, out because of a broken thumb. When Belt returns, Posey and the Giants might face a similar quandary as Mauer did.
Of course, the whispers about being too valuable to catch started long ago, for both Posey and Mauer.
“I had people trying to get me to [move] when I was 20 years old,” Mauer said. “I had knee surgery [in 2004], and there were rumblings then. I’m glad I didn’t listen to any of them — I had a pretty good career behind the plate.”
Pebble Beach no trouble
Aaron Hicks was happy with his swing on Thursday — his golf swing. The Twins center fielder shot an 80 at one of the most famous courses in the world, Pebble Beach.
“It’s awesome. It’s amazing, it really is,” Hicks said. “You grow up watching guys play that course, and to walk up those fairways, it was awesome.”
Hicks was one of eight members of the Twins’ traveling party to play the iconic seaside course, five of them ballplayers. Hicks’ 80 was the best score, “and it could have been better if I had hit a couple of putts,” he said.
Second baseman Brian Dozier wouldn’t reveal his score, other than saying it was in the 90s. “It wasn’t my best day,” he said. Bullpen catcher Nate Dammann carded an 87.
Hicks said he was thinking about all the U.S. Opens that have been played there when he walked up the 18th fairway alongside the Pacific Ocean cliffs.
“I hit my drive probably 340 [yards], and set myself up for a 195[-yard] shot. And I hit it in the water, which so many guys have done,” he said. “I just laughed. You can’t be mad — look where I am.”
But if it had been the Open? “I totally blew it,” he joked.
• Samuel Deduno will start Saturday, the Twins announced, and Ricky Nolasco will go Sunday. Nolasco experienced tightness in his hamstring earlier in the week, causing him to be pushed back, manager Ron Gardenhire said, but threw with no problems in San Diego.
• Gardenhire strongly hinted that the Twins will recall outfielders Josh Willingham, who homered for Class AAA Rochester on Friday, and Oswaldo Arcia, who collected three hits, after Sunday’s game. Both landed on the disabled list because of wrist injuries in April, but both say they are healthy again. Mike Pelfrey, also on a rehab assignment, pitched five scoreless innings for the Red Wings on Friday.