Mauer, now playing first base, already at Twins spring training

The former catcher is making a transition to first base this year to lengthen his playing career.

Joe Mauer felt out of his element, arriving at spring training to a clubhouse stall without a catcher’s mask, shin guards and chest protector to slip on.

Mauer is in his 13th major league camp — 13th! — but his first camp solely as a first baseman. The tools of ignorance are banished to a souvenir room as Mauer prepares to toil under the hot Florida sun at a position that’s supposed to keep him in the lineup more often and prolong his career until his bushy sideburns finally turn gray.

“It’s been different,” he said Tuesday. “I think it’ll hit me more Saturday. Is it Saturday? I don’t even know.”

That was another giveaway. He’s used to being on hand for the first pitchers and catchers workout. He indicated earlier in the offseason that he would not report until the position players are due Friday. But he showed up on Monday declaring, “baseball is in the air,” and took part in informal workouts. On Tuesday, he met with the media to talk about The Great Transition.

“It’s new to me,” he said. “The first workouts I think will be a little different. I’m still working out but it’s definitely a little weird not being in catchers’ meetings and things like that. So it’s good.”

It’s supposed to be. While the health component is the most important factor — he was limited to 113 games last year because of a severe concussion — the thinking is that Mauer on the field more will lead to more Twins offense. The only time he should head into the trainer’s room is for cold medicine and energy drinks.

“I think 20 more games playing that position I think my numbers will be better,” said Mauer, who played a career-high 147 games in 2012.” But I think it’s a lot of unknowns, what is going to happen. You guys are asking me questions and I don’t know. I’m not going to try to be anything I’m not. I’m going to go out there and just try to have good at-bats and play the game like I always have. It will just be at a different position.”

Mauer’s playing time has been one of the hot-button issues throughout his career, which happens when terms such as sacroiliac joints and bilateral leg weakness get attached to one’s name. What will be interesting in 2014 is how close Mauer will be to an everyday player in a sport in which playing 162 games doesn’t happen often. Prince Fielder, Billy Butler, Joey Votto and Hunter Pence were the only players to appear in 162 games last season.

What about Mauer in 2014?

“Like I said, I’ve never played first base fulltime,” he said. “That’s been my goal as a catcher. I’ll be out there every day that I can, and I’m looking forward to being out there more.”

Mauer feels he’s “scratching the surface,” as a first baseman. He’s played 56 games at that position but has a 10.16 range factor. That would have put him third in baseball last season — just in front of Justin Morneau.

Still, Mauer feels he can get better, and will take the position even more seriously than he has. Former manager Tom Kelly, who played first base, will be around if Mauer wants to learn the finer points of playing the position.

“It’s not how much TK wants to, it’s how much Joe wants to do it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “T.K. will be there every day. He’s as good as they get around the bag and teaching the footwork and everything. That’s his passion. That’s what TK has always done. Joe’s already had a sampling of it. If Joe wants more, T.K. will give him more.”

And it sounds as if Mauer will ask for more.

“In the past, it was kind of a day off from catching and just go out there and do your best,” Mauer said, “but now it’s my job. But learning the little things of footwork and mechanics and how to make things easier for me, I’m looking forward to learning things like that.”

 

  • related content

  • Neal: Willingham, Arcia report to Fort Myers

    Wednesday February 19, 2014

    The clubhouse is filling up in front of Friday's reporting date for position players and the first full-squad workout on Friday.

  • Souhan: Guerrier looking for good old days

    Wednesday February 19, 2014

    The former Twin with arm trouble returned to make comeback in place where he was comfortable.

  • Notes from camp: Santana, Twins reunion possible

    Tuesday February 18, 2014

    The Twins remain interested in a reunion with free-agent lefthander Johan Santana, but competition is growing.

  • Video: Rob Antony provides Twins updates

    Tuesday February 18, 2014

    Assistant GM is on the scene at spring training

  • Read the replay: Twins Chat with La Velle E. Neal III

    Tuesday October 1, 2013

    See what La Velle E. Neal III talked about with Twins fans, some of whom are already snarky, during their noon-hour Live Chat.

  • MINNESOTA TOPICS: Joe Mauer

    Find the latest news and information about Joe Mauer.

  • Twins first baseman Joe Mauer made a throw to home plate during spring training practice Tuesday in Florida on the first day of The Great Transition away from catching.

  • springing into action: The Twins Trevor Plouffe ran sprints in the Florida heat with infielders on Tuesday in Fort Myers as the team began getting into spring training mode as it prepares for the first exhibition game of the season.

  • The Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was surrounded by fans seeking autographs Tuesday in Florida as he arrived to begin preparing for the upcoming baseball season. Mauer is working with former Twins manager Tom Kelly on playing first.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final(10)2345678910RHE
Minnesota «00201000611140
Kansas City0011010005121
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
HR: MIN- None KAN- A.Gordon (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota 11 Bottom 10th Inning
Kansas City 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland 2 Bottom 5th Inning
LA Angels 3
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 3rd Qtr 12:50
San Diego 9
Seattle 21 3rd Qtr
Oakland 35
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 28 1st OT
Tulsa 28
Rutgers 21 3rd Qtr
Washington St 17
Weber State 0 2nd Qtr 6:44
(19) Arizona State 24
Temple 7 2nd Qtr 9:51
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close