Myth: Joe Mauer Returns to 1B in 2011
Hey there sports fans! The All-Star break is over and that three day hangover with no meaningful baseball is over!
With the return of baseball comes the return of Trevor Plouffe and Delmon Young. Tervor Plouffe has essentially hit his way out of Rochester since being demoted earlier this season after failing to impress with both his glove and his bat. Delmon Young is back after a brief rehab stint in Rochester due to a defensive snafu that caused him to catch his cleat in the fence and led the medical staff to ultimately cart him off the field.
With Delmon Young’s return, and Plouffe’s offensive resurgence (and because he has been learning the role of utility player in AAA player at 1B, MI, 3B, Corner OF) the Twins could find themselves with plenty of options when filling out their line up each day.* For now, that probably means an outfield of Revere, Young, and Cuddyer, and a first base platoon of Hughes, Plouffe, and Cuddyer filling in for the injured Justin Morneau. When Cuddy fills in at 1B Twins fans should expect Repko or Plouffe to fill his spot in RF, and if Plouffe continues to hit it is hard to imagine Gardy trying to find ABs for Repko and his .230 career batting average.
*When Denard Span returns from his post-concussion rehab assignment, and Jason Kubel‘s foot heals up, the team will have even more options, and some difficult decisions to make, probably sending Luke Hughes and Jason Repko back to Rochester.
The middle infield has settled down in June with the return of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishoka and Alexi Casilla have been turning some very exciting double plays up the middle. Over at 3B Danny Valencia has started hitting the ball better and finds himself off of Gardy’s hot seat, but he’s still going to get a day off now and then and Luke Hughes can fill in as needed over there.
In 2011, Jim Thome is starting to show his age, and his durability has not been what it was in 2010. Because of that it is hard to see Ron Gardenhire scheduling Thome as the every day DH, making room for Trevor Plouffe’s hot bat or, giving Mauer a chance to rest his knees.
What all of this means is that there are not really going to be a lot of opportunities to put Joe Mauer at 1B, and everyone knows his preference is to catch. He tells the media every chance he can, “I am a catcher.” So Mauer will continue to catch three or four games in a row, and he will probably DH when he is not behind the dish.
Things might not turn out this way, and maybe Ron Gardenhire really liked what he saw out of Mauer at 1B, I just do not see it happening. There are too many other players that the Twins are going to want in this line up. So I hope you took a good, hard look at Mauer on July 7th, because it could be the only time you see it in 2011.
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