Doesn’t sound like the USA-Canada rivalry is over in Twins’ clubhouse.
“A little base hit” is the gee-I’m-so-impressed way that Joe Mauer described Justin Morneau’s single off Glen Perkins in last week’s World Baseball Classic on Sunday. And if that wasn’t dismissive enough, Mauer added that “Perk had him down 0-2. I was telling Perk, if that ball was down, I think you’ve got a strikeout.”
Mauer was smiling as he said it, and he couldn’t pull off the condescending routine for long. “If we were on the same team,” Mauer finally admitted, “it was a laser to the right side.”
The Twins’ two representatives on Team USA were back in the clubhouse Sunday, though they were spared the bus ride to Sarasota for Sunday’s Grapefruit League game.
“I’ve been living out of my suitcase for a couple weeks,” Mauer said. “I assume I’m in there tomorrow.”
As disappointed as he is that Team USA didn’t advance past the second round, Mauer said the experience was worthwhile, comparing it to a playoff series. “It was a crazy atmosphere. It was kind of like the U.S. was the road team in every game except Italy,” he said. After the Americans were eliminated by Puerto Rico on Friday, manager Joe Torre addressed the team, saying “he appreciated the guys being there, playing the game hard. Guys got after it, and it was fun to be a part of.”
Will he do it again in 2017? “If they’ll have me,” Mauer said.
Deolis Guerra returned to Fort Myers on Sunday, two days after having a rib removed in hopes of preventing another blood clot like the one that spoiled his WBC hopes. He’s doing well, General Manager Terry Ryan said, and soon will begin therapy to restore his range of motion, with the goal of returning to the mound around midseason.
But Guerra’s news Sunday wasn’t entirely positive. He also was informed that he has been reassigned to the Twins’ minor league camp, one of seven players to receive the news. Also cut were infielders Chris Colabello and Mark Sobolewski, outfielders Brian Dinkelman and Clete Thomas, catcher Eric Fryer and pitcher Shairon Martis, who is in San Francisco with the Netherlands’ WBC team.
Scott Diamond will pitch in a game for the first time Monday, though he won’t be facing major-leaguers. Diamond, recovering from surgery to remove bone chips in his pitching elbow in January, will face a Class A team in the Twins’ minor league complex, a big step toward a possible return in mid-April.
“I’m hoping to only miss two starts,” said Diamond, who will be limited to 30 pitches. “I felt I had a little dead arm a week ago, but we’re pushing through that now. It feels really good.”