Twins catcher Joe Mauer took infield at first base before Monday's game against the Dodgers at Target Field.

Gonzalez, Carlos, Star Tribune

Mauer takes grounders at first

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 28, 2011 - 12:18 AM

Using an old first baseman's mitt owned by Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer took grounders at first base Monday afternoon as manager Ron Gardenhire looked on and offered some tips.

Mauer has agreed to provide Gardenhire with another option on days he's not catching. Mauer hasn't played first base since 2002 when he was in the minors.

"I haven't played there in 10 years," Mauer said. "It's been a while. I'm trying to learn the best I can, that if the situation comes up then I'll be comfortable out there."

Mauer took grounders during early workouts and regular batting practice. Gardenhire stood nearby both times. Jason Kubel also took grounders at first during BP and could be an option as well.

"I think the thing is that everyone sees me with a first baseman's mitt, and it's not a position change," Mauer said. "I'm a catcher. That's what I signed to do and things like that. Given the circumstances, [if] I can play over there a couple days, here and there, that would be a good thing.

"But I wouldn't take it much more than that."

Mauer would like to take grounders a few more times before he's asked to play first in a game. Gardenhire wasn't sure when that would be. Mauer has very little experience reading the ball off the bat and has to work on positioning and relays.

"You put a person over there that hasn't played, you don't want him to be Superman or anything," Gardenhire said. "You just want him to be over there and make the plays you're supposed to make and get the outs you're supposed to get.

"... But he's a good enough athlete. I think he can handle it, no problem."

Infirmary check

• Kubel (sprained left foot) will play for Class A Fort Myers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then head for Class AA New Britain, where he will play in the three weekend games before being re-evaluated. He will continue to take grounders at first but won't appear there during his rehabilitation stint. "I'd like to see him get 25-30 at-bats," Gardenhire said.

• Righthander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) will be on a 50-pitch limit Friday when he pitches for Fort Myers.

• The Twins are still waiting for results of an MRI exam of Delmon Young's right foot, injured Saturday in Milwaukee. Young was able to slip his foot into a shoe and put a little weight on the foot, but he was moving pretty slowly.

• Denard Span (concussion) is making progress but continues to feel fatigued at the end of the day, just like Justin Morneau did during his recovery from a concussion suffered last year.

• Morneau still is scheduled to have surgery on the pinched nerve in his neck Wednesday.

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