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.
Monday camp tidbits: Injury updates, tall pitchers and Team USA
By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com
Day 1 of Twins camp is in the books and it was the most beautiful day weather-wise since I arrived in Fort Myers, Fla. a little over a week ago. The sun was shining and temperatures were in the mid-70s for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. Now that actual workouts are underway, it’s a good time to empty the notebook with some interesting tidbits and stories.
— The only injury concern currently in camp is pitcher Loek Van Mil, who is battling some soreness in his right shoulder. Van Mil is going to be limited to long toss for the next couple days so he won’t be throwing in the bullpen during that time.
— Catcher Jose Morales sat in the dugout bench on Field 5 and watched as pitchers and catchers stretched before the start of Monday’s workout. Morales’ right arm is still in a cast following surgery at the end of last month to stabilize a tendon in his wrist. Morales said that the cast is scheduled to come off in a week. The switch-hitter said he should be able to start swinging from the right side in about two weeks and the left side in about four.
— Infielder Nick Punto has not yet reported to camp, as position players don’t officially have to be here until Friday, but Twins general manager Bill Smith said that the team plans to take it easy with him early in camp. Punto underwent a cleanup surgery on his right wrist at the end of last month and had been expected to be ready to go on the first day of full squad workouts. But Smith said there is no rush for Punto to be 100 percent.
“He’s such a high energy player. We’re just going to try to slow him down,” Smith said. “We’ll make sure we take out time. Opening Day is a long ways away.”
— When talking about Van Mil’s sore shoulder, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked what it’s like to have so many tall pitchers in camp this spring. Van Mil is 7-foot-1 and reliever Jon Rauch is 6-foot-11. The two pitchers weren’t in the same throwing group but everyone laughed at how Van Mil made one member of his group — Joe Nathan, who is 6-foot-4 — look short.
“I’m already prepping them on, if I come up to the mound they have to back off the mound so I can look at them eye to eye,” Gardenhire said with a laugh. “Too many guys I’m going to have to look up to on this staff.”
— There was one additional position player who reported to camp on Monday — outfielder Delmon Young. While Gardenhire was meeting with the media, Young stuck his head in the manager’s office to say hello. Young, who has dropped at least 30 pounds from last season, surprised his skipper by his new svelte look and it led to a humorous exchange.
“What happened brother? You go to a shrink machine?” Gardenhire joked with Young.
“[Carl] Pavano is on our staff,” Young said. “I need to catch the fly balls on the warning track.”
— Young wasn’t the only player that Gardenhire enjoyed teasing on Monday. Even though first baseman Justin Morneau has yet to report to camp, he wasn’t exempt from getting a few jabs from the manager.
Gardenhire said he was texting Morneau during the USA-Canada Olympic hockey game on Sunday night. The U.S. pulled off the upset, defeating Canada 5-3 and Gardenhire couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to get on British Columbia-native Morneau, who shares his Canadian pride with everyone.
“He’s catching a lot of heat,” Gardenhire said.
Morneau’s wife, Krista, is from Minnesota and the first baseman told Gardenhire that this was one of the times it was hard to be married to an American. But there will likely be some more ribbing awaiting Morneau when he arrives at camp, as many of his teammates were ready to continue the trash-talking about Team USA’s win. Morneau is rumored to be arriving to camp tomorrow so it’s possible that he could arrive to a little red, white and blue tribute in his locker.