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Joe Mauer has played first base and right field in addition to catcher this season, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said a healthy Mauer will spend most of his time as a catcher next season.
"Well, he's a catcher, and we signed him for a eight-year contract to be a catcher," Gardenhire said. "He's just been beat up a little bit. He's going to have to have a really good winter ... and come into spring training in shape and be ready to catch. I think the one thing we've seen is there are other options that we can move him around and maybe protect him a little bit, but he's a catcher."
Gardenhire said Mauer doesn't have an interest in playing those other positions full-time.
"Absolutely, he wants to catch," said Gardenhire. "That's what he likes to do, and we signed him for that reason. He's one of the best catchers in the game, if not the best, when he's healthy. So we just have to get him healthy and keep him healthy for a season. Having him be able to play these other positions is pretty good, actually.
"He's a great catcher. He's an All-Star catcher, and a Gold Glove winner, and you don't find those anywhere. No team has too many of those guys. We just have to get him healthy. I think this winter is going to be a huge winter for him coming into spring training healthy and go from there."
Gardenhire said first baseman Justin Morneau also needs to have an outstanding offseason.
"All these injuries that he's had to deal with, he's past them right now," Gardenhire said. "He's another guy that we need to have healthy and keep him on the field for a full year and see what happens."
This might be the most interesting offseason coming up for the Twins since the Tom Kelly days, with trying to keep star players Mauer and Morneau healthy and signing some productive free agents.Maturi happy with Kill
Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi admits that while football coach Jerry Kill wasn't the top choice to replace Tim Brewster, he was always on the list of candidates.
"I'll be honest with you, he wasn't at the top of the list on the front end, that's an honest statement," Maturi said. "But he was always one of our people that we were considering from Day 1. The more homework that we did and the more research that we did, we just felt that he was the best fit. Again he hasn't coached a game, but I think we all like what we see, we're all optimistic and excited about the future."
Maturi added: "I've said it very openly and honestly, I hired Jerry Kill because I thought he was the best long-term coach for the success for the University of Minnesota football program. I never dreamt that he would win people over as he has every time he's spoken, every time he's gone to an event, everything he does on and off the football field. I think the future is very bright because of Jerry Kill.
"In essence in the long run, he's judged by wins and losses, but I'm one of those that believe -- I'm a little bit old-school like he is -- that the wins will come because of who he is and because of how he's doing things."
Well, I have been covering the Gophers forever, and Lou Holtz is the only coach who duplicated what Kill has done in such a short time.
Forget him being just a football coach, this guy is just an amazing person. Given time, he'll win if he gets the support that Iowa and Wisconsin get from their school administrations.McKinnie skeptics
The Baltimore Sun greeted the Ravens signing of former Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie with a headline that read: "Bryant McKinnie is literally a huge risk for the Ravens."
McKinnie told the Sun that his release by the Vikings "was honestly more of a numbers game about having their salary cap at a certain point, which wasn't really mentioned that much," and that his agent wasn't happy with a proposed restructured contract offered by the Vikings.
McKinnie admitted he came in heavy and had some cholesterol problems. At the same time, he said he never took any conditioning tests.
Former Eden Prairie and Notre Dame offensive lineman Mark LeVoir also was signed by the Ravens after being released by the New England Patriots.Jottings
• Rob Moor, CEO of the Lynx and Timberwolves, verified a Star Tribune story that Rick Adelman, a veteran coach whose contract was not renewed by Houston this past season, recently was in town to interview for the Timberwolves coaching vacancy and is interested in the job. Moor said the Wolves are finished interviewing candidates and hope to hire a coach soon, with the NBA lockout not having any bearing on the timetable.
• Interlachen, a county club that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has its first female president in Linda Mona, who probably has been more active than anyone else in helping the University of Minnesota women's athletic program grow to a point where it is rated with the best in the country.
• Former Timberwolves player and executive Fred Hoiberg recently took his Iowa State Cyclones men's basketball team on an exhibition tour of Italy, winning all four games.
On the trip, Royce White was able to play in his first games as a college athlete after missing the past two seasons by leaving the Gophers and sitting out a season when he transferred to Iowa State. In the four games, White averaged 11.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and three steals.
• Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe had his best game of the World University Games to help the United States defeat Germany 86-83 in the fifth-place game in Shenzhen, China, on Monday. Mbakwe scored a team-high 21 points, going 7-for-9 from both the field and the free-throw line, and also recorded eight rebounds. For the tournament, Mbakwe averaged 11.4 points, good for fourth on the team, and a team-high 9.4 rebounds per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org
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