La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame......forget it, let's write about Joe Mauer

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 27, 2011 - 11:55 PM

When Twins catcher Joe Mauer missed the first month of the 2009 season with sacroiliac joint issue, he returned with a red hot bat, hitting 11 home runs and collecting 32 RBI.

We were led to believe that hitting would never be a concern with St. Joe.

This year has taught us a different lesson.

He missed two months before returning earlier this month, but entered Monday batting .200. His bat was not ready for the regular season and it makes one think that manager Ron Gardenhire was right for wanting Mauer to face Class AAA pitching before returning. Mauer, instead, came to the Twins from Class A Fort Myers.

``I've only been back a week,'' Mauer said. ``I'm trying to get my timing down and all that stuff and, on top of that, keep the strength I've built up over the last couple of months. That's where I'm at.''

Mauer hit a line single to center during the Milwaukee series that was a reminder of what he can do to a baseball. On Monday, he doubled to left, and it took a perfect relay home to nail Alexi Casilla, who was trying to score from first.

Mauer feels he's making progress.

``I think I'm starting to feel a little bit better, physically, which is allowing me to do some of these things,'' he said. ``I'm still not exactly where I want to be but I gotta get out there. I haven't been feeling very good at the plate but you have to get out there and swing and work on it.''

We should get an update sometime Tuesday on the MRI on Delmon Young's right foot, which he injured during the weekend series in Milwaukee. Check Joe C.'s blog tomorrow afternoon.

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