Columns suggesting Joe Mauer has to switch positions and questioning his reputation have the catcher and manager upset.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire awoke Monday to suggestions from the Twin Cities' two biggest newspapers that it's time to move Joe Mauer from catcher to third base.
Gardenhire has his own opinion.
He strongly disagrees.
"Do I sound fired up about it?" Gardenhire said. "That's because my guys are fired up about it. The whole team's all fired up, and Joe's a little fired up, and he's pretty disappointed, and that's sad. He's done nothing wrong. All he's done is his work and he's getting hammered. It's too bad it has to be written."
One year after becoming the first American League catcher to win a batting title, Mauer has been limited to 95 games because of various leg injuries. He's been out since Aug. 25 because of a strained left hamstring and is batting .294 with five home runs and 53 RBI.
But Gardenhire said the only time the Twins discuss changing Mauer's position is when it comes up in the media.
"If it's deemed that he can't play catcher, then obviously we'll find another position for him," Gardenhire said. "But you're talking about an All-Star catcher. This guy's pretty good. He can stop a running game. He can do things that you're not going to find anywhere else."
Mauer acknowledged that the columns had struck a nerve.
"A little bit," he said. "Not just that [position change suggestion]. ... I don't usually read the paper, but when people start writing things about questioning reputations and stuff like that, and they don't really know what's going on in clubhouses, that's what kind of fired me up a little bit."
The Pioneer Press column listed a Mauer move to third base as one of five moves the Twins should make for 2008. The Star Tribune column said that "Mauer's reputation in the clubhouse had taken a hit," while other teammates played through injuries and he "eased and iced his way back into the lineup."Guys in here know that I play hard and play hurt and play through all sorts of things," Mauer said. "You know, obviously if I need to switch positions, hopefully that's later down the road, but I want to be a catcher as long as I can."
In spring training, Mauer missed time because of a stress reaction in his left shin. In May, he strained his left quadriceps muscle and missed 29 games. Even before his latest hamstring pull, Mauer acknowledged that the May injury had limited his workout regimen and led to late-season fatigue.
But Mauer said none of that has lessened his commitment to catching full-time.
"I'm still 24 years old," he said. "That's pretty young in this game, and you know, it's just one of those things. When you get hurt early in the season, you've got to deal with it the rest of the year because in baseball you play every day."
Gardenhire took issue with the Star Tribune's examples of other major leaguers who had thrived as hitters after moving from the catching position: Mike Sweeney, Phil Nevin, Craig Biggio, Todd Zeile and Dale Murphy.
"Was Sweeney a good catcher, an All-Star catcher? No," Gardenhire said. "Were any of those guys All-Star catchers who controlled the running game and stopped the running game?
"None of them were Joe Mauer. This guy's a stud catcher."
Last month, Gardenhire and Mauer did talk about practicing other positions, such as first base, for the purpose of creating another way into the lineup on his noncatching days other than designated hitter.
Gardenhire said Mauer could suffer leg injuries at other positions because he'd still be running the bases. That's how he hurt himself in May and again in August.
|Philadelphia||7||2nd Qtr 7:05|
|San Diego||7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|San Antonio||7:30 PM|
|Arizona||2||2nd Prd 5:16|
|Tampa Bay||6:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||9:30 PM|
|Mount St Marys||45||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||94|
|St Josephs (IN)||54||FINAL|
|UCLA||42||2nd Half 0:24|
|UC Davis||52||2nd Half 9:38|
|Houston Baptist||45||2nd Half 8:03|
|Davidson||59||2nd Half 11:43|
|Coll of Charleston||49|
|USC Upstate||33||2nd Half 9:31|
|NC Central||65||2nd Half 12:05|
|Miss Valley St||40|
|Illinois State||42||2nd Half|
|Louisiana||63||2nd Half 9:50|
|Oakland||61||2nd Half 8:31|
|Detroit||42||2nd Half 14:09|
|Presbyterian||45||2nd Half 7:59|
|Monmouth||43||2nd Half 12:44|
|Southern U||28||2nd Half 11:16|
|Iowa State||16||1st Half 10:23|
|Wake Forest||10||1st Half 11:14|
|High Point||19||1st Half 8:32|
|Texas Southern||14||1st Half 6:53|
|New Hampshire||21||1st Half 5:00|
|Northeastern||28||1st Half 7:29|
|Huston-Tillotson||18||1st Half 8:23|
|Purdue||12||1st Half 14:47|
|Prairie View||4:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Central Conn St|
|Boston Univ||6:00 PM|
|Texas A&M||6:00 PM|
|Morgan State||6:00 PM|
|Saint Josephs||6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||6:00 PM|
|La Salle||6:00 PM|
|Incarnate Word||6:05 PM|
|Long Beach State||7:00 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||7:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St||7:30 PM|
|New Mexico||8:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Utah Valley U||8:00 PM|
|Jacksonville St||8:00 PM|
|St Edwards||8:00 PM|
|NC State||8:30 PM|
|TX A&M-CC||9:00 PM|
|Cal Poly||9:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|Montana State||9:00 PM|
|Ball State||9:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|South Dakota St||9:05 PM|
|Utah State||21||4th Qtr 1:33|
|(23) Utah||24||3rd Qtr|
|Western Mich||4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||12/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Rutgers||12/26/14 3:30 PM|
|NC State||12/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/27/14 12:00 PM|
|Duke||12/27/14 1:10 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Miami-Florida||12/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Boston College||12/27/14 3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||12/27/14 7:00 PM|
|East Tenn St||56||FINAL|
|(1) South Carolina||80|
|St Thomas Aquinas||45||FINAL|
|Montana State||52||2nd Half 4:02|
|Marshall||47||2nd Half 4:39|
|(22) West Virginia||67|
|Morgan State||28||2nd Half 16:17|
|Northeastern||49||2nd Half 6:47|
|Furman||46||2nd Half 6:30|
|(18) Michigan State||56||2nd Half 7:20|
|Ohio U||39||2nd Half 13:00|
|Prairie View||21||2nd Half 14:15|
|Toledo||58||2nd Half 3:45|
|High Point||48||2nd Half 8:22|
|Winthrop||20||2nd Half 11:53|
|William Jewell||29||2nd Half|
|Louisiana Tech||20||1st Half 8:58|
|Southern Utah||12||1st Half 11:31|
|Hawaii||20||1st Half 11:51|
|San Jose St||15||1st Half 8:37|
|CS-Northridge||13||1st Half 10:17|
|San Diego State||18|
|Norfolk State||14||1st Half 7:50|
|Saint Peters||15||1st Half 7:50|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Northwestern||2||1st Half 15:37|
|Oral Roberts||5:00 PM|
|Florida Atlantic||5:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|La Salle||5:00 PM|
|(16) Oregon State||5:30 PM|
|Sacred Heart||6:00 PM|
|Saint Louis||6:30 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|Long Beach St|
|Old Dominion||7:00 PM|
|Austin Peay||9:00 PM|
|Lewis-Clark State||9:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State||9:30 PM|