Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer has not played since Aug. 19 due to a concussion, but he has shown some signs of being close to returning by taking batting practice on Friday and Saturday. There is still no definite timetable for Mauer’s return to action, but it seems to be a foregone conclusion that he will try to play again this season.
Much of the talk surrounding Mauer, beyond when he may return to action, has been about a permanent move away from playing catcher. With the recent trade of Justin Morneau, the team is now in a more urgent search for a long-term solution at first base and Mauer has played 56 games (54 starts) there over the last three seasons.
Mauer has put together an excellent season to this point, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, 47 RBI and 35 doubles over 508 plate appearances (113 games). Of course some fans say he doesn’t hit enough home runs to justify his $23 million annual salary, but they are missing the point and missing out on one of the greatest hitters in franchise history by being fixated on Mauer’s lack of home run power.
With Saturday night’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Twins are now 61-79 and 20 games out of first place in the American League Central. So it makes no sense for Mauer to be rushed back into action as the team heads toward another season with 90-plus losses, and the Twins have recent experience with a star player that suffered a concussion. In July of 2010 Morneau took a blow to the head while sliding into second base, and it is without argument he has not been the same player since. Hopefully the Twins exercise extra caution with Mauer, and they don’t risk his long-term health for the prospect of a few more wins at the end of a third consecutive dismal season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.