Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Mauer says decision to move to first base tough but easy

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: November 11, 2013 - 4:44 PM

    A week after Joe Mauer won his fifth Silver Slugger Award as the American League's best-hitting catcher, the Twins announced Monday that it will be his last. Mauer is a catcher no more.

    The six-time All-Star will become a full-time first baseman in 2014, after a foul tip ended his 2013 season six weeks early.

    "It's one of the tougher decisions I've had to make, but also probably one of the easiest," Mauer said, because the symptoms of his concussion lingered into October. "I really tried to do everything I could to get back out on the field. But it wasn't safe and I wasn't able to do that."

    Getting back on the field is what finally convinced the St. Paul native, who had resisted such a position switch for years. A back injury kept him out for a month in 2009, leg injuries cost him half his season in 2011, and he sat out the Twins' final 39 games this year after taking a couple of foul tips off his helmet on Aug. 19. When doctors warned him that another concussion would likely linger at least as long as this one, Mauer had heard enough.

    "All it takes is one. That's one of the things I had to realize -- if I said 'no, I'm catching,' all it would take is one foul tip in batting practice and I'm out again," the three-time batting champion said. "I don't want to put myself in that position. I think it's the right decision not only for myself, but for my teammates and the organization."

    It was Mauer's decision, general manager Terry Ryan said, but one the Twins -- who still owe their new first baseman $115 million over the next five years -- fully support.

     "I'm happy he has chosen to make the transition, but if he decided he wanted to catch, I'm not sure anybody was going to stand in his way," Ryan said. "We had a conversation in October, just about the future. One thing that was apparent, [after] Joe was on the [disabled list] for quite some time, the important thing was his health, and it led from there. Joe did some searching, talked to some people he had a lot of confidence in, and ultimately he got back to me and said he was willing to make the move. I think it's the right decision."

    Especially since the Twins have a vacancy at the position, created when Justin Morneau, whose career has been severely impacted by concussions of his own, was traded to Pittsburgh on Aug. 31. Morneau is a free agent now, and Ryan admitted that the possibility of the four-time All Star returning to Minnesota has been lessened by Mauer's decision.

    There's also a chance that the Twins might sign a catcher to beef up a position the Twins haven't had to deal with in almost a decade, though Ryan sounded optimistic that the current catchers -- Ryan Doumit, Chris Herrmann, Eric Fryer and especially rookie Josmil Pinto, who batted .342 in 21 games in September -- would be able to handle the position.

    Mauer emphasized that he is symptom-free now, and ready to embark on his usual winter workout schedule. 

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Kansas City 1 Top 6th Inning
San Francisco 0
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 63 4th Qtr 8:38
Toronto 68
San Antonio 50 3rd Qtr 4:37
Houston 64
Miami 63 3rd Qtr 8:36
Memphis 51
Minnesota 78 3rd Qtr 2:29
Chicago 84
Phoenix 28 2nd Qtr
Utah 33
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 2 3rd Prd 11:14
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 3 2nd Prd 2:47
Winnipeg 1
Vancouver 1 1st Prd 3:28
Colorado 1
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 3 3rd Qtr 0:00
Cincinnati 20
Troy 6 3rd Qtr 9:28
South Alabama 17
BYU 0 1st Qtr 1:40
Boise State 10
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
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Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 2nd Half 35:00
Chicago 0
Montreal 23 0:22
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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