Results tagged ‘ Joe Mauer ’

Span to get precautionary MRI on shoulder; Mauer gets cortisone shot

By: Kelly Thesier/

Twins center fielder Denard Span is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder on Thursday.

General manager Bill Smith said that the team had scheduled the MRI after Span missed three games last weekend after injuring the shoulder while diving for a ball in a game at Chicago on Sept.16. Span returned to the lineup on Monday and played all three games against the Indians.

“When he missed a couple games last week set this up,” Smith said. “And we decided to go ahead and have the MRI as a precautionary measure.He’s played a few games without any significant problems but we decided just to have it done.”

Span told ESPN 1500 AM on Thursday that he initially injured the shoulder during a dive in Oakland in early June. He said he’s been dealing with soreness in the shoulder on and off since that time, but said that it’s nothing that he can’t play through.

Smith also confirmed that catcher Joe Mauer received a cortisone shot in his left knee on Wednesday. Mauer injured his knee in Sunday’s game against the A’s, leaving after his at-bat in the sixth inning, but an MRI revealed no structural damage, just some tissue inflammation. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Mauer, who has not played since Sunday, would miss a few days if he received a cortisone shot.

Mauer’s MRI provides good news

MINNEAPOLIS – The MRI on Joe Mauer’s left knee showed some tissue inflammation but nothing more serious, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Tuesday’s game against the Indians.

“Everything came out good, so good news,” Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said that Mauer would probably receive a cortisone shot to help with the inflammation in his knee, which would sideline him for around 4-5 days. A decision on whether Mauer will get the shot will be made once he consults with the Twins doctors on Tuesday night.

Mauer injured his knee while swinging in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the A’s, and the catcher left the game after it started to get worse while he ran up the first-base line.

The Twins are on the verge of clinching the American League Central title as their magic number was 2 entering Tuesday and there are 12 games remaining in the regular season, so Gardenhire said the timing of the injury isn’t such a bad thing.

“If they decide to do [the cortisone shot], then it’s probably 4-5 days, which he could use,” Gardenhire said. “That would be good [for him].”

Although Gardenhire had said that he wasn’t concerned that Mauer’s knee injury was anything serious since the doctors had not seemed concerned, he acknowledged that the positive results of the MRI were a bit of a relief.

“They told me in the first place it was nothing so I was listening to them,” Gardenhire said. “But I think you never know until you see an MRI, you never know what you can find.”

Until Mauer is ready to return to the lineup, the Twins catching duties will be split between Drew Butera and Jose Morales. Butera was behind the plate for Tuesday’s contest to catch starter Scott Baker and Morales was slated to catch Wednesday afternoon’s contest with Nick Blackburn on the mound.

Thursday’s postgame tidbits — Liriano, Mauer, Portes

The Twins saw something from Francisco Liriano on Thursday night that they had been hoping to see this spring — confidence.

In his second outing of the spring, Liriano faced the Orioles for two innings in relief. He impressed with his outing, holding Baltimore scoreless while striking out three and allowing just one hit — a two-out triple to Robert Andino in the fifth inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was pleased with the way that Liriano located his fastball. Liriano’s breaking pitches looked good in his first spring outing but it’s been his fastball that he’s struggled with at times during his career.

“He was in one of those outings where you kind of get a little disappointed when they hit the ball,” Gardenhire said on Thursday. “There are a lot of swings and misses going on so when they hit it, you’re like [disappointed]. That’s how he threw the ball tonight. The ball was darting. I’m sure the guys on the other side will tell you he was pretty nasty.”

Gardenhire credited the difference in the way Liriano was throwing to his newfound confidence, not only in his stuff but the way he’s feeling physically.

“This game is all about confidence,” Gardenhire said. “Last year, he had just lost his confidence. He was questioning himself about which pitch to throw and all those things. When your stuff gets to a certain point and comes back and your arm feels good and your body feels good then everything starts to fall into place. By listening to him talk, that’s about where he is right now.”

— Drew Butera caught Liriano in his outing, although Joe Mauer had originally planned to do so. But Mauer left the contest after the third inning, thanks to taking a foul tip off his right shoulder. Gardenhire said Mauer was pretty sore after he came out of the game. Mauer had originally been scheduled to play on Friday against the Mets but now they’ll give him the day off.

“We all know catchers take a beating and there is no sense in pressing that,” Gardenhire said.

— Juan Portes continues to impress at the plate. The outfielder went 2-for-2 on Thursday night, with a double and his third home run of the spring. He’s now batting .700 (7-for-10) in six games this spring. His slugging percentage is a ridiculous 1.700.

Gardenhire said he first saw Portes back in Instructional League a few years ago and he liked the outfielder’s swing then.

“I always said he could swing the bat and I think he’s really showing it here,” Gardenhire said. “When you get invited to Major League camp, this is what you try to do. You try to open eyes and impress people. I think he’s doing that very well.”

— Twins bench coach Steve Liddle spent Thursday night in a local hospital after experiencing some dizziness and tightness in his chest during batting practice. Gardenhire said Liddle underwent some tests at the hospital on Thursday night but so far everything has checked out OK.

— Rain forced Thursday night’s contest to be called early and it could impact Friday’s game against the Mets. Gardenhire said there could be a window in the afternoon although rain is forecast for the entire morning.

Game 2: All eyes on Joe Mauer

When Joe Mauer stepped to the plate in the first inning of Friday’s spring home opener at Hammond Stadium, he drew the biggest ovation from the crowd of any Twins player.

Perhaps that’s because Twins fans want to remind the catcher just how much he’s loved in Minnesota.

All eyes have been focused this spring on the catcher’s contract status and that was intensified on Thursday with the news that Mauer’s agent, Ron Shapiro, was at Twins camp in Fort Myers, Fla.

Shapiro is expected to remain in Fort Myers this weekend. The two sides are still negotiating a contract extension for the reigning AL MVP, although neither will comment publicly on it, so more face-to-face talks are likely to take place while he’s in town. Still, Shapiro’s presence in camp doesn’t necessarily mean that a deal is close. So far there have been no indications from either side that anything is imminent.

There have been plenty of questions directed to Mauer this spring about his contract, although the catcher has politely chosen not to discuss specifics about talks taking place. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Mauer, who prefers to stay out of the spotlight, has been holding up well despite all of the attention.

“He’s fine. Joe’s so quiet, you don’t even know. …
He’s just Joe,” Gardenhire said. “He goes about his business. He’s preparing for the
season, and all the other things take care of themselves. The only time
he talks about it is when somebody asks him.”

Here are a few other notes from today:

— Loek Van Mil, the 7-foot-1 pitcher from the Netherlands,
is going to have another MRI done on his right shoulder. Van Mil, who has been bothered by shoulder tendinitis, threw one pitch in a bullpen session today before shutting it down.

–Nick Punto is expected to make his spring debut on Sunday in one of the Twins’ split squad games. Punto, who underwent minor surgery on his right wrist at the end of January, has taken one session of live batting practice so far this spring. The club was going to try to get him another one but Gardenhire said there were not enough pitchers due to the fact there is a split squad this weekend.

–Carl Pavano was pleased with the way he threw in Friday’s contest, tossing two scoreless innings while allowing one hit, walking two and striking out one. He said that he’s been working on a mechanical adjustment with pitching coach Rick Anderson to get himself better extended out toward home plate in his delivery and he said he feels it’s starting to help already.

–Shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos is expected to get back to seeing action on the field after the team’s off day on Wednesday, Gardenhire said.

Cage time: Tuesday’s tidbits and notes

Rainstorms throughout the Fort Myers area this morning forced the Twins workouts inside the indoor batting cages this morning. Both pitchers and hitters got their work done in the cages, although it wasn’t without a little havoc. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the club had to pin up the netting in one of the cages because 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch was too tall and his arm was hitting the netting during his delivery.

Still despite the cramped space and less than ideal conditions, the Twins were able to get enough done on Tuesday.

“We got plenty of work, just inside, not on the grass,” Gardenhire said. “ Guys got out there, ran around, whatever, all
that stuff. But we had to do most of our work inside, the fields got
pretty ugly, which is never a bad thing. You get your work in,
sometimes give them a little break on their legs, a little less
throwing on a day like this is fine. Just don’t want too many of them.
We just moved today’s program back to tomorrow. Perfect.”

Here are a few more news nuggets from Tuesday:

— All of the injury concerns seem to be doing OK. Brian Duensing and Jose Mijares were both able to throw after getting hit during live batting practice in recent days.

— Gardenhire passed along his lineup for Thursday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox at City of Palms Park

It’s as follows: Denard Span CF, Alexi Casilla 2B, Jason Kubel DH, Michael Cuddyer RF, Jacque Jones LF, Brendan Harris 3B, Brock Peterson 1B, Drew Butera C, Matt Tolbert SS

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will play in Friday’s home opener at Hammond Stadium. Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy will likely make their Twins spring debuts in that contest as well.

— Gardenhire is also scheduled to receive his Chuck Tanner Manager of the Year Award during Sunday’s split squad game in Bradenton against the Pirates. The award was given out this offseason but Gardenhire was unable to attend due to traveling across the country with his mother.

One person who gave Gardenhire grief for not attending was Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who was roasted at the event in Pittsburgh. Leyland also had a bit of advice to pass along to Gardenhire recently.

Having heard Gardy’s comment about Joe Mauer’s contract in that the Twins were deciding whether to give the catcher Minneapolis or St. Paul, Leyland said he had the answer.

“Give him both,” the Tigers skipper said.

Bring on the Hitters

By: Kelly Thesier/

Today marked the final day that only the Twins pitchers and catchers worked out. On Saturday the club will hold its first full squad workout and that means the annual team meeting will take place. It’s the time when manager Ron Gardenhire gives his speech to the team for the 2010 season.

Gardy was asked on Friday if the message was going to be pretty simple considering that expectations are high for his club in 2010.

“It’s the same every year. Our goal is to be consistent and try to win our division,” Gardenhire said. “If everything works out OK we should do just fine. Talking about it doesn’t get it done. It’s all about the work on the field and the games. Sure we have high expectations. Absolutely. I think I do and I think everybody should. We like our baseball team. We will see how it goes.

“The meeting tomorrow is about getting the work done. We have never rested on our laurels. We have never said that we are OK. We will continue to work our tails off and try to outwork everybody else.”

— As I wrote in a story for the website, Justin Morneau arrived to camp today. Surprisingly, though, there were no USA decorations in his locker when he showed up. I thought there would be since so many of his teammates seemed ready to trash talk about Team USA beating Canada in Olympic hockey last Sunday. The only gesture was that Brendan Harris put on a USA hockey hat and teased Morneau at his locker with it for a few minutes early in the morning.

So why no decorations?

“I think there probably was,” Morneau said. “Then they saw that Russia game and took them down.”

— The only position player who had not been spotted in the clubhouse by Friday afternoon was shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos. In addition to Morneau, outfielder Juan Portes also reported to camp on Friday.

— One sign that was spotted in a locker by day’s end was this “1st place Long and Mean: 55” by Joe Mauer’s stall. It was to celebrate that the catcher’s group won the charity golf tournament by shooting a 55 on the Long and Mean course at Fiddlesticks on Thursday afternoon. Mauer couldn’t resist putting it up.

“This is the first time I’ve won the thing,” Mauer said with a smile.

More tomorrow when pitchers start throwing live batting practice. It’s always a day of entertainment as the pitchers have a clear advantage over hitters early in camp.

Follow me on Twitter @kellythesier

Day 4: Time for a little golf

Every year during Spring Training the Twins host a charity golf tournament to benefit the Lee Memorial Regional Cancer Center. This year’s event took place on Thursday at the Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the event in each of the past four years and it’s a chance for me to not only get in a round of golf, but also to have some fun while raising money for a very good cause.

More than 30 Twins players and coaches hit the links on Thursday, including manager Ron Gardenhire, Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Carl Pavano, Nick Punto, and Matt Guerrier.

But the player who drew the most attention on the driving range before the tournament was Twins outfield prospect Aaron Hicks. The California native is a scratch golfer and was blasting drives past the end of the driving range — and mind you, they were straight shots that would land in the middle of the fairway. Other players such as Cuddyer gathered around to watch Hicks hit, and they were clearly impressed.

However it was Mauer’s foursome that took the top spot of the day, as they shot the lowest score of any group — 55.

Due to the golf tournament, Thursday’s workout was quick and the players were off the field a little earlier than usual.

That meant there wasn’t much news from the workout. Alexi Casilla was the one position player who reported to camp, leaving just three players — Justin Morneau, Estarlin De Los Santos and Juan Portes — missing. The buzz in camp is that Morneau is in Florida but just hasn’t attended a workout yet. For manager Ron Gardenhire, that’s actually a positive because it means that Morneau is listening to the advice that he needs to back off his excessive workload at Spring Training. The first baseman has often been one of the first position players to report and is at the complex nearly every morning by 7 a.m. to hit in the cages. Yet the team wants that to change a little this spring following Morneau’s back injury last year.

He knows he’s got a long spring training and a long
season. It’s good that he’s taking his time,” Gardenhire said. “He’s
not supposed to report until Friday and work out Saturday, and that’s
good. Stay away, it’s less stress on his back.”

Day 2: Camp roster is growing

By: Kelly Thesier/

As Friday’s reporting date for position players draws closer, the clubhouse inside Hammond Stadium is slowly starting to fill up.

Among the notable names arriving at camp on Tuesday were Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, and Nick Punto. There was also another familiar face when Jacque Jones arrived, taking over the locker stall that Torii Hunter occupied for many years. Some other prospects have also unpacked stuff into their lockers including third baseman Danny Valencia and 2006 first-round pick Chris Parmelee.

Position players take part in their own informal workouts on the back fields of the Minor League complex during the early days of camp. Every year the hitters are behind the pitchers early in Spring Training, which always makes for some entertainment when live batting practice starts. And the pitchers enjoy getting to rag on the position players a little about it as well.

So it was no surprise to hear this exchange in the clubhouse today between Thome and reliever Jon Rauch as the veteran slugger was putting some bats back in his locker.

Rauch: “Just like riding a bike?”

Thome: “Some years. [laughs] But not this early.”

Joe Mauer even joked about getting his swing back. As the catcher grabbed a couple of bats to take part in catcher’s batting practice on Tuesday morning, he said, “We’ll see if I can still remember how to do this.”

Just a guess, but I think the three-time AL batting champion will be OK.

Here are a few other notes and tidbits from Day 2 of camp.

— Prospect Estarlin De Los Santos hasn’t arrived at camp yet but manager Ron Gardenhire said that he’s heard the shortstop is battling a little tendinitis in his shoulder. The club will know more once he reports but Gardenhire said the infield is already starting to get thin, and position players aren’t even officially in camp yet.

–Since pitchers are still just throwing bullpens, it’s difficult for the coaches to get much of a sense of how they’re doing. But the questions about Francisco Liriano are already starting due to his strong performance in winter ball. Gardenhire had this to say about Liriano today.

“He looks good,
his body is in great shape,” the manager said. “It’s just going to get down to how we go through Spring Training, facing hitters and all that stuff. Really, he’s past this
point [of bullpens], he’s pitched all winter long. This is kind of something that he’s not
here to get in shape like everyone else because he played all winter. It’s just
about getting through it now, getting in games and continuing where he left off
during the winter for him.”

–A common sight during the first two days of camp has been a herd of fans moving around the Lee County Sports Complex whenever Mauer switches fields. The catcher has always been a big attraction at camp but this year the crowds seem to be even more interested in the reigning AL MVP.

— The Twins are also expected to officially announce on Wednesday that the first game at Target Field will be a contest between the University of Minnesota and Louisiana Tech on March 27. More details will be unveiled in a press conference at Target Field. Hall of Famer and former Twin Paul Molitor will be on hand for the announcement.

You can follow me on Twitter @kellythesier

Welcome to the Fort

Greetings everyone from sunny Fort Myers, Fla. (I can’t say warm because it hasn’t exactly been that way over the past week. I know, I know, no complaining to those who are still in Minnesota).

I was on vacation for the last seven days, although I spent that time down here in Florida –working on my golf game. (It’s training time for everyone, right?) Today was my first day back at the ballpark and so I thought I’d share a few of the sights and sounds at the Lee County Sports Complex two days before the club’s official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.

While I’d heard that players had been slowly trickling in all week, there was quite a bit of activity there today. Among the notable names who were working out at the ballpark today were Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Michael Cuddyer, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Pat Neshek. A few of them, including Nathan and Guerrier threw bullpen sessions while Neshek threw some live batting practice. In addition to the numerous players on the fields, there were plenty of fans wandering about. I got a chance to catch up with a few of them and always enjoy hearing about their enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

After hanging around the fields, I headed over to the main clubhouse to see who might be dropping off stuff at their lockers. Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy were there, having just returned from a week up in Minnesota. As I tweeted earlier, Mauer was sporting a new beard that he grew while spending time up at his cabin. Mauer took Hardy to the cabin where they worked out and even did some ice fishing there. Hardy said he can’t believe how famous Mauer’s cabin has become, but did add that it was a pretty impressive place to visit.

Golf was a common topic of conversation in the clubhouse, and not just from me talking about how my swing was feeling this week. Nathan and Carl Pavano were headed out to play 18 holes — one of many rounds of golf that they’ll likely play this spring. While my golf game goes on hiatus pretty much over the course of Spring Training, the players get to enjoy their time on the links (especially during the short workout days early in camp). So I’m sure I’ll get to hear quite a bit about how their golf games are progressing.

One person who was only too happy to share his golf story was manager Ron Gardenhire, who got the opportunity to play Augusta National on Friday. The timing was not ideal as the South was hit by a massive snowstorm on Friday afternoon, and Gardy’s playing group had to golf in the snow for the final three holes. He said he got some pictures of the group on hole No. 18 with the snow falling. Augusta got a total of four inches — something that hadn’t happened in 37 years — so Gardy was proud to at least have pictures of the event. He didn’t shoot too shabby either, telling me he was only one over after the front nine

Tomorrow will be the final day for players to work out before the official reporting day. It’s often a little quieter around the ballpark as guys enjoy their final day off before things really get underway. I’ll be back out at the complex tomorrow to start working on a few stories so I’ll share more at that time.

No deal in place yet for Mauer

There has been a lot of speculation in recent days that the Twins will soon sign catcher Joe Mauer to a contract extension.

But so far there is no deal in place.

A source familiar with the negotiations denied a report by WCCO-TV that Mauer and the Twins have reached preliminary agreement on a 10-year contract.

While no deal is currently in place, negotiations on a contract extension have been ongoing between Mauer’s agent,
Ron Shapiro, and the Twins. But the two sides have been reluctant to discuss any details of
the situation publicly.

The idea of a 10-year deal for the catcher does not seem out of reason based on the catcher’s career so far. Mauer, who will turn 27 on April 19, has already won thee batting titles, two Gold Gloves and the 2009 American League MVP Award. He is set to make $12.5 million this season, the final year of a
four-year, $33 million deal.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Friday he hasn’t gotten involved in the negotiations concerning Mauer, but he’s optimistic that the club will ink the St. Paul native to a contract
extension. His belief is that something will get done before the team
reports for Spring Training.

“I don’t sit and fret about it,” Gardenhire said. “I think the
right thing is going to happen. I think we all know the ramifications
if something weren’t to happen and it were to go the other way. That
wouldn’t be a good thing for anybody, except for maybe some clubs out

“I think everybody knows what needs to get done here. From our
owners to our general manager to our fan base, we all know what
everybody wants. It is right out there for us … and I think they’ll
make it happen.”

On Friday, Mauer said he hopes his contract
situation doesn’t become a distraction for the team. Pitchers and catchers will report to Fort Myers, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 21 for the start of Spring Training.