Joe Mauer set to rejoin Twins on Friday
The Minnesota Twins will welcome back Joe Mauer to lineup for Friday’s game against the Cleveland Indians, four weeks to the day the first baseman last played.
The 35-year-old Mauer landed on the disabled list after suffering a cervical strain while diving for a pop-up in foul territory. The injury brought upon concussion-like symptoms, including sensitivity to light and balance issues. Mauer has experienced concussion-related issues during his career, which ultimately led to him stop playing catcher, his natural position.
Mauer, after a few sub-par seasons, enjoyed a rebirth of sorts last season and his 2018 campaign was off to a decent start before the injury, with a .404 OBP and .283 batting average in 38 games. While those numbers are staggering, Mauer brings a patient and consistent approach during at-bats that hopefully will rub off on his teammates. After all, the Twins have scored two runs or less four times in their past six games.
“Joe is extremely patient, extremely prepared, one of those guys who is not afraid to hit with two strikes. And he shouldn’t be because he’s really good in those situations,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, via the Star Tribune. “He’s just one of those professional hitters who seem to take good at-bats each and every night, whether it’s getting hits or driving in runs or getting on base or taking walks. It’s part of what makes a team effective, when you get guys who can slow the game down when they get in the box.”
Mauer’s return arguably could not come at a better time, as it coincides with the surprising news that the Twins sent Miguel Sano, an All-Star in 2017, way down to Single-A Fort Meyers.
“I don’t know if there’s a bad time to add Joe Mauer back into your lineup,” Molitor observed.
That said, Mauer did go 0-for-10 at the plate during a two-day rehab assignment in the minors, although Molitor was not too concerned about it.
The Twins (29-36) remain in the hunt in the sub-par AL Central, sitting back of the Indians by six games. A three-game set over the weekend in Cleveland gives Minnesota a good opportunity to close the gap.