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Ron Gardenhire reiterates Joe Mauer isn’t changing positions

Jun 1, 2011, 12:48 PM EDT

joe-mauer-and-ron-gardenhire

There’s still no timetable for Joe Mauer‘s return from the leg problems traced back to offseason knee surgery, but manager Ron Gardenhire reiterated yesterday that whenever Mauer does come off the disabled list it will be as the Twins’ catcher.

Ever since Mauer suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie in 2004 a certain segment of Twins fans have clamored for a position switch and his latest injury has dramatically increased the number of people who think he’d better off not catching, but so far at least none of the Twins’ decision-makers seem to agree. Here’s Gardenhire:

He signed an eight-year deal to catch in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins. So we’re trying to get him back as a catcher. If it doesn’t work out when he comes back, then we’re going to have to figure somewhere else. And that’s a lot harder than everybody makes it out to be, because we have some corner people that are pretty good baseball players.

He could play anywhere. He played the infield as a young player. We can make him the tallest shortstop since Cal Ripken. Right now, he’s a catcher, and that’s where he’s going to be until Joe says, “I can’t do it anymore,” or we deem him not physically able to do that. But we believe he is. He just needs to get healthy.

Mauer has repeatedly made it very clear that he intends to remain a catcher long term, but in the short term his stay on the disabled list will be longer because he needs to be game-ready on both sides of the ball and right now he’s been limited to designated hitter duties at extended spring training.

I’ve always felt very strongly that Mauer should remain behind the plate, because as a catcher his bat is Hall of Fame-caliber but as a first baseman or corner outfielder his bat is “only” All-Star-caliber. With that said, obviously an All-Star in the lineup is better than a Hall of Famer on the disabled list, and at some point the injuries may simply force the Twins’ hand. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, though.

  1. schrutebeetfarms - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    This annoys me to no end.

    He didn’t sign a contract to catch, he signed a contract to play baseball. If not catching allows him to play more baseball, he should switch positions immediately.

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    He is too tall to catch. I think there is a reason catchers are usually stubby guys.

    • dluxxx - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      I think that has more to do with a lower target than it physically not being able to do it. Catchers are getting bigger now. Look at Mike Piazza, that dude’s 6’3″. He eventually had to move, but he caught a lot of games.

      • dluxxx - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:08 PM

        Victor Martinez – 6’2″
        Jorge Posada – 6’2″
        Jon Buck – 6’3″
        Brian McCann – 6’3″
        A.J. Pierzynski – 6’3″
        Matt Wieters – 6’5″
        Joe Mauer – 6’5″

        Ain’t one of those guys stubby, and that’s only a handful of guys I checked on. The “too tall” comment could be said about most catchers today. I mean, come on, not everyone is 5’7″ like Yogi anymore…

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        Yeah, I dropped the ball on that one. You are right. I guess when I think of a catcher, I think of a short, stubby guy. Probably because I’ve spend the past several years watching Chooch catch. Anyway, I was absolutely off base on this….they should still change Mauer’s position, though. He is having to many health problems at such a young age.

  3. nyyankeefanforever - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Agree with the two previous commenters here, and it’s utterly stupid of Gardenhire to make the allegory about tall shortstops. Just 11 catchers listed at 6-foot-4 or taller have ever had at least 2,000 plate appearances in the modern major leagues, and all them sucked except Mauer. If was him or the Twins owner or a Twins fan, I could give a rat’s azz whether he winds up in the HOF ot the All-Star game. I’d care that 20 percent of my team’s payroll is tied up in a guy who can swing a bat but prefers to sit until his knees stop hurting. If Arod — who has played both injured and hurting many times, both in the field and at DH — ever pulled an egocentric stunt like saying he wouldnt bat until he could play the field 100 percent, the whole world would demand he he be arrested for grand theft.

    • dluxxx - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Considering that Joe would be pushing either Kubel or Thome out of the lineup to play DH for the Twins, I’d say that Joe knows exactly where his value lies with the team. Joe wants to be able to play his position and not be a burden to an already thin bench. Thome hasn’t played the field in a few years, and they’d still end up filling the C position with guys who can barely hit over the Mendoza line. The Twins need Joe back, but only if he can play 4 of every 5 games.

  4. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Jack Morris still sucks as a color man!

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