FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jake Mauer didn’t even flinch when an autograph seeker tried to get his attention on a practice field. “Joe! Joe!” the woman yelled.
“Happens all the time,” the brother of the Twins first baseman said with a shrug. “C’mon, I’m wearing [No.] 90.”
It’s a mix-up that figures to become common, because as the newly appointed manager of the Chattanooga Lookouts, Jake Mauer now takes part in Twins major league camp, working alongside his more famous brother. It’s the first time he has worked with the major leaguers, though Jake is well-known in Fort Myers, having spent three seasons managing the Class A Miracle.
“I haven’t seen much of him so far, but it’s nice to have him here,” Joe Mauer said. “I’m excited for him to work at that level [Class AA] of baseball now. He’s going to manage a bunch of guys he’s had before, so that familiarity should help him.”
Funny thing is, the still-active player is dabbling a little bit in coaching, too, informally. With former manager Tom Kelly not in camp to mentor the first basemen, Mauer is trying to pass on tips to his younger teammates.
“He’s taught me a lot over the years,” Mauer said, “and I’m trying to relay some of the things I learned from him to some of the other guys.” For instance, he offered some advice to Miguel Sano during Sunday’s workout about making his defensive signals more clear for the rest of the infielders, a suggestion Sano quickly adopted.
New drills to teach
The Twins’ first workout Sunday included a handful of new drills, designed to help tighten the outfield defense, something that manager Paul Molitor has put new coach Jeff Pickler in charge of. There’s a first-step drill to help speed reactions toward the ball, and a footwork drill to help improve accuracy of throws.
Like this year’s new sessions to help catchers practice pitch framing, the idea, Molitor said, is that “it would be foolish not to have at least some increased focus on areas that were problematic last year.”
It’s not only the drills that are new. Molitor wants his coaches to schedule more small-group or one-on-one sessions before each morning’s regular workouts.
“There are a few subtle things with our outfield, catching, baserunning and bunting,” he said. For instance, “You won’t only see infielders on the half-diamond. We’ll have pitchers over there who have trouble with the run game.”
J.B. Shuck, outfielder
2016 stats: .205 average, .248 on-base percentage, four home runs in 81 games for White Sox; also batted .299 in 37 games for Class AAA Charlotte.
Acquired: Signed minor league contract Dec. 17.
Role: Competing for fourth outfielder job, he can play all three positions.
Did you know? Jack Burdett Shuck III made All-Big Ten as an outfielder at Ohio State but also was a starting pitcher for three seasons and pitched an inning for the White Sox last season. He is the brother-in-law of Giants closer Mark Melancon.