Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mauer's 1B journey begins tomorrow

The Twins have seen enough from Joe Mauer in recent workouts to feel comfortable starting him at a defensive position other than catcher for the first time in his MLB career. Mauer is scheduled to start at first base for the Twins tomorrow evening when the team opens a four game series against the Chicago White Sox.

Mauer has not played in a game at first base since 2003 when he was with the Fort Myers Miracle. The 2002 season also saw Mauer play 13 games at 1B for the Quad Cities River Bandits. For his entire minor league career, Mauer had a .990 fielding percentage with one error in 104 chances at 1B.

The Twins have been working with Mauer on his footwork around the bag. The coaching staff has also helped him with where he should place himself for cutoffs and backing up plays around the diamond. The other players in the infield might need to give Mauer a few reminders during the game but Mauer is a smart enough player that this should not be too much of an issue.

It is interesting to consider that the Twins will be starting Mauer at 1B in one of the most hostile road environments for the Twins. The Twins will be heading to US Cellular Field  on the south side of Chicago. The rivalry between the White Sox and the Twins has been one of the strongest rivalries in the AL Central over the past decade. The White Sox are also only a few games ahead of the Twins in the standings so the pressure is on the Twins to make up some more ground before the All-Star Break.

The Twins reported before the game that Mauer would be sitting out Wednesday's game against the Rays because of some general soreness in his shoulder. Hopefully, this is not another set back for Mauer from the injuries that impacted him during the first half of this season.

By stepping out from behind the plate, Mauer can find another way to help the Twins. His offensive numbers are slowly improving so keeping him in the line-up on a consistent basis is something the Twins need to do.

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