If Joe Mauer is not signed by the start of spring training, he'll have no choice but to face the questions about his future with the Twins.

A reporter from large market team No.1 will show up in camp one day to ask how he would feel wearing pinstripes. A reporter from large market team No. 2 will want to know his feelings about hitting doubles off a large,green wall in 2011. A crusty national writer will want to know of he's going to be distracted by all the contract talk.

And this is just spring training. What if talks drag into the regular season?

For some insight, here's a transcript from Chris Russo's Sirius XM radio talk show. His guest on Wednesday was Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, who was represented by Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, during his playing career.

Host/Chris Russo: “The thing I like about Shapiro, Cal, is he’s reasonable.  Ron is reasonable.  I think that Mauer is not looking to get every possible penny out of a mid-market club, I know a mid-market club going into a new ballpark, but he’s not looking to get every penny, which then leads you to think that a deal could be done.”
Cal Ripken Jr.: “If I had to make a guess, it’s just a matter of time before Joe Mauer becomes a Twin.  They’re going to figure out a way.  They’ve got to recognize that this is a guy you really want to build around.  And they’re going to have a competitive team because they’re a good organization.  But they’re gonna say, ‘Ok, if there ever was a perfect guy that we want to build around, that we want to figure out how to keep, it’s him.’  And Ron’s a win-win type of negotiator.  He wants both sides to do really good at the end of the deal and sometimes you have to give a little bit to get what you want.”
Ripken Jr.: “If I was talking to Joe Mauer I would advise him, don’t let the negotiations sneak into the season.  Because I made the mistake of doing that.  Our team was up for sale and I thought the next ownership group might not see it exactly the same way.  We were so close in Spring Training on a deal and it was a lot of money.  And there were just a couple of small issues that needed to be taken care of so I let it go into the season.  And you want to keep your mind totally on the baseball.  Every time it seemed like I was 4-for-4 or 4-for-5 in a couple game span then all of a sudden I thought the contract negotiations started to heat up, and then when you went 0-for-8 it seemed like the contract negotiations went down.  So I would highly recommend, and it’s not  a hard line position that Joe would be taking in saying, ‘Look, if we want to do this thing let’s make sure we do the business side before I actually have to focus on playing because that’s really all I want to do.’”  

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