FORT MYERS — It’s like a scene out of a movie, two teammates pitching and hitting and having a good time. On the one end you have Joe Nathan, the Twins revered closer and ace out of the bullpen. On the receiving end you have Joe Mauer, the Twins’ All-Star catcher and hometown savior.
Now if only this beautifully crafted scene can become a reality.
That’s the hope for Twins fans, almost as if their restlessly waiting for the highly anticipated release of this movie. Seeing this preview only whets appetites that are frankly getting a bit bored with all the test screenings and behind the scenes talk. It’s like when HBO runs promo footage to coincide with a flick in theaters; most of us can’t watch the promo and we’d rather just get on with it and see the finished, polished product.
It’s a blind wait Twins fans have become all too accustom to this season. One day the two Joe’s were here, right in front of us playing away and the next they’re gone; scooped up as if by a secret government agency.
But images out of Fort Myers, FL of both Joe’s playing baseball together in a live bating practice gives credence to the theory that they weren’t abducted by outside forces and will indeed be returning to the Twins. The question of when still lingers.
News came down this weekend that Joe Mauer would be finally returning to the Twins on Tuesday. That was quickly changed to Thursday. That has again been changed to Friday which really puts Twins fans in the same spot they were in before, the realm of the unknown.
Joe Nathan is a different story. Frankly because no one cares as much when or if he comes back as much as they do about Mauer. Nathan started the year on the roster after missing all of last season. He subsequently bombed upon arrival and was removed from his closing duties. He then went on the DL which Minnesota must be under the impression is a minor league club given the number of players and the ease at which they are sent there.
“I took some time off to break up some scar tissue,” Nathan said of his newest trip to the DL. “Ever since that, it has been night and day with how the ball has been coming out of my hand. The ball felt like it was coming out of my hand a lot better than what I’ve been used to. I think I’m starting to finish my pitches a lot better. I’m seeing more life on the ball now.”
Mauer has just nine of the Twins 65 games, roughly 13% of the season. His return will be more of a relief as Drew Butera is, how do you say, a headache in just about every way for the Twins. But the length and mystery surrounding Mauer’s absence has been almost as interesting as the Twins season thus far.
“It was a lot longer than I had hoped,” Mauer said of his rehabilitation process. “But I got my work in, and I worked with a lot of great people down here. It was nice, but obviously I want to be up there in Minnesota and be up there playing. I feel like I’m ready to get out of here.”