Joe Mauer’s spring training stats don’t jump out at you. In 15 games, he batted .273 with one home run and five RBI.
But, following his first normal offseason — conditioningwise — in years, Mauer heads into the regular season feeling good about his swing.
“The last week I really turned a corner as far as feeling pretty good [at the plate], and hopefully that carries over into the season,” Mauer said. “During a season, you’re going to feel good at the plate and not feel so good. But hopefully I can get off to a good start and keep it going.”
He didn’t have to recover from injuries or ailments like in recent offseasons and worked on getting his body right. Once he arrived in spring training, he worked on a few things. One was using his legs more.
He also worked on pulling the ball more. Mauer likes to let pitches travel deep down the plate, which has often led to balls hit to the opposite field. This spring, Mauer worked with hitting coach Tom Brunansky on hitting the ball out in front. That helps him pull the ball.
“A little farther out makes things a lot easier,” Mauer said, “especially to the pull side. It’s a process. No different than any year.”
Mauer lined hard to right field in first inning on Saturday, then hit a double to right-center in the third inning.
His one home run came on March 28 against the Phillies — on a ball hit to right.
“That was about the time where I started feeling pretty good,” Mauer said. “During the spring you try to work on things and try to bring them into the game. Maybe I was trying to do a little too much with things I was working on early. That day I said let’s go out and treat it like regular at-bats, and it felt good.”
Milone and Pelfrey preparing for roles
Not everyone was on the charter to Detroit for Opening Day.
Lefthander Tommy Milone and righthander Mike Pelfrey — who will start on Friday and Saturday in Chicago — remained in Fort Myers to pitch in minor league games, their last work before they make their regular-season debuts.
Both will throw around 75 pitches. But Pelfrey said if he’s feeling really good he might try to throw 90 pitches since he will have a week to recover.
• Eduardo Escobar’s spring stats have been impressive — .344 batting average, four home runs and 20 RBI in 16 games. But in 62 plate appearances, he did not draw a walk.
• Yes, those were bench coach Joe Vavra’s sons — Tanner and Trey — each getting an at-bat as the designated hitter Saturday. Both are infielders in the Twins organization.
No official workout is scheduled, but the coaching staff and several players will be at Comerica Park on Sunday to prepare for Opening Day on Monday against lefthander David Price and the Tigers.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III