The Minnesota Twins and Joe Mauer expect the former MVP to catch more often this season. The catcher, who is feeling healthy reiterated this sentiment. In 2011 Mauer had a mysterious “bi-lateral leg weakness”, whatever that means, which led to Mauer only catching 74 games last year. The hometown kid appeared in 147 games in 2012 picking up starts at 1st base and as the designated hitter. Twins’ GM Terry Ryan has said he hopes Mauer will appear in 120 games behind the dish in 2013.
This is good news out of the Twins camp a few reasons. Mauer, when healthy, is an exceptional catcher who won three consecutive Gloves between 2008 and 2010. But more importantly, it allows Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit to fill 1st base and the DH spot. After trading away two of their starting outfielders, it’s essential for the Twins to have Mauer, Doumit and Morneau in their starting lineup. The trio combined for 237 RBI last year in limited action. And without legitimate bats at the top of their order, the Twins will need plenty of production for their formidable middle of the order, which also includes left fielder Josh Willingham.
Mauer, when healthy, can be one of the most complete players in all of baseball. But since signing a 7-year deal for superstar money, the left handed hitter has played below expectations. Not only has this undoubtedly been frustrating for Mauer, but the hometown darling has started to catch flak for his inability to stay healthy and produce the type of numbers that earned him the contract in the first place. But even in an “off” year, Mauer still hit .319 and knocked in 85 runs.
Look for the newly-wed Mauer to get in a groove and remind the American League he is still, indeed, an elite offensive player.
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