Posts Tagged ‘Joe Mauer’

Hardy’s blast makes winner of Britton

August 22, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Had it not been for a fan wearing a Joe Mauer jersey, J.J. Hardy likely would have been out, and Twins starter Carl Pavano could have gotten out of the inning with the game still tied.

Hardy got a second chance, instead, and he took advantage of it, crushing a 2-2 fastball from Pavano to left for a go-ahead homer in the fifth inning of a 4-1 Orioles win over the Twins on Monday night at Target Field.

“Was it a Mauer fan?” Hardy asked. “Somebody was saying he was wearing a Hardy jersey.”

Hardy’s solo home run, his 24th of the season, made for a happy homecoming for the former Twins shortstop and helped lefty Zach Britton and the Orioles pick up the much-needed victory.

Baltimore snapped a five-game losing streak and Britton snapped a five-decision skid of his own, earning his first win since June 8 against Oakland.

“I think it was bigger for the team, more so than me,” Britton said. “Obviously it’s good to get the win, but I think we needed it. The way we played in Anaheim, to be able to come out and get the first win, the first day here, I think it sets the tone for the next three games.”

Britton had some long innings — he allowed at least one baserunner in each of his five frames — and saw his pitch count rise to 98, but he was otherwise solid in his first start since Aug. 4.

After going on the disabled list Aug. 5 with a left shoulder strain, Britton was activated before the game and went five innings, allowing one run on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

“It’s just one of those days, I’m so excited to be back and I’m overthrowing everything,” Britton said. “I didn’t really have great command, so my mindset was like, ‘Here it is.’ I’m going to make them beat me with my stuff. I’m going to throw it over the plate because I know I can’t hit corners right now.”

Britton got big outs to end the third and fifth innings, both of which came with Jim Thome at the plate and runners in scoring position.

In the third, with a run already having scored, Britton walked consecutive batters to load the bases for Thome. Britton threw a 1-1 fastball and Thome ripped it to left, but it stayed in the park and was caught for the final out.

“It was big,” Britton said. “Any time you can get out of those situations — especially with a close game, and especially coming back my first day, having some bad outings recently — to be able to get out of there where I haven’t been able to in the past was pretty big.”

Britton then struck Thome out looking, stranding a pair of runners in the fifth.

“He was right at the limit there and he was going to be real mad at having to come out at 4 2/3 if he walked Thome there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But he made a big pitch there to get out of it, and I’m proud of him.”

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters added another solo blast in the sixth, his 13th of the year, and Nick Markakis drove in Hardy from first with a one-out double in the seventh for a final insurance run.

The Twins scored their only run off Britton in the third when Ben Revere singled with one out and later came around on a Mauer groundout.

Revere made a highlight-reel grab to end the seventh when he raced back to make a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch at the wall in center field, robbing Vladimir Guerrero of an extra-base hit and keeping a run off the board.

“It was unbelievable,” Hardy said. “That was as good as Adam Jones’ catch in Seattle.”

Right-hander Chris Jakubauskas relieved Britton to start the sixth, and retired the first five Twins he faced. Jakubauskas combined with lefty Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg to hold the Twins scoreless with just two hits over the final four innings.

“The kid threw the ball very well against us,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the eighth for arguing balls and strikes. “Their bullpen came in and changed speeds and threw some curveballs. I think at one point I looked up and saw we had eight guys left on base, and that tells you the whole story.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins notebook, 6/26

June 26, 2011 Comments off

Mauer to start working out at first base

MILWAUKEE — Had they been playing by American League rules, Joe Mauer likely would have been in the Twins lineup on Sunday as the designated hitter.

With DH not an option in the Twins’ final Interleague road game of the season, Mauer was out of the lineup for the day game after Saturday’s night game. And that’s part of the reason why Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would like Mauer to get comfortable at first base.

“Yeah, definitely, if he could play first base, he probably would be playing first base today,” Gardenhire said. “Or third base, or somewhere. That’s why I want to explore all the options we have to keep his bat in the lineup as much as we possibly can, especially when all these people are hurting.”

When the Twins return home after their series with the Brewers, Mauer will put in some work at first base to get comfortable with the new position.

Gardenhire said Mauer is still working his way back behind the plate, but should have more time to get acclimated to first base when the Twins are back home. He also said he’d like to have Mauer work with special assistant to the GM — and former Twins manager — Tom Kelly at first base, but has no plans for that as of yet.

“I’d love to, but I don’t think Joe’s ready for that one,” Gardenhire said. “TK’s as good … as I’ve ever been around, as far as teaching people at first base — absolutely.”

Gardenhire prefers a week’s rehab for Kubel

MILWAUKEE — Twins outfielder Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) is getting close to a rehab stint, and his manager would like it to include as many as seven games.

Ron Gardenhire said Kubel could play as few as four Minor League rehab games, but he’d prefer to see Kubel get about 28 to 30 at-bats over a week of games at either Class A Fort Myers or Triple-A Rochester.

“I’ve seen guys come back with 15 or 20 at-bats, and I just think — you’ve been out a month, 30 at-bats is probably a pretty good thing,” Gardenhire said. “I know we originally talked about four days, but when we get home, I’m going to maybe talk about a little bit more.”

Kubel ran the bases with no issue on Saturday, and was scheduled to do the same on Sunday.

Twins head trainer Rick McWane also gave updates on Denard Span (concussion), Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) and Delmon Young (right ankle sprain).

McWane said Span was scheduled to work out on Sunday at Target Field and is still slated to be evaluated when the team returns home.

Slowey threw 35 pitches in two innings with no problems on Saturday night, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts for the Fort Myers Miracle. His next outing is scheduled for Wednesday.

“He is going to pitch on the 29th, three to four innings, 50 pitches,” McWane said. “We haven’t decided where he’s going to pitch.”

Young, who left Saturday’s game after injuring his ankle in the fifth inning, will have an MRI on Monday after the Twins return home.

Tosoni doesn’t mind quick turnaround

MILWAUKEE — When he learned that he had been recalled and added to the Twins’ 25-man roster on Saturday, Rene Tosoni had to scramble to get his laundry done. He had only been home four hours, and had plenty to clean before catching a flight at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Of course, he didn’t mind, since it meant Tosoni would be back with the big league club again just one day after being optioned. Tosoni flew from Milwaukee to Rochester and back, logging just over 1,200 miles in less than 24 hours.

“When I got called up, I was in Columbus, and I’ve been living in hotels since,” Tosoni said. “Traveling kind of sucks, but it’s all right. I’m happy to be here.”

Tosoni didn’t even see anyone with the Red Wings, who were in Syracuse on Saturday before returning home Sunday.

After not getting much sleep Saturday night, Tosoni spent about five hours traveling Sunday morning, leaving Rochester, N.Y., at 6:10 a.m. ET and arriving in Milwaukee at 10:07 a.m. CT.

Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “That trip going down is never as fun as the one coming back.”

Twins ink fourth-round pick Summers

MILWAUKEE — The Twins announced on Sunday that they have signed right-hander Matt Summers, their fourth-round pick out of UC-Irvine.

Summers, the 18th Draft pick signed by the Twins from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is the second-highest pick signed behind second-rounder Madison Boer, also a right-hander.

Previously drafted by the Yankees, Summers was the Big West Pitcher of the Year in 2011. He was 11-2 with a 1.72 ERA, striking out 96 batters in 109 2/3 innings in 16 starts. He tossed the fourth no-hitter in school history against Long Beach State.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins notebook, 6/25

June 25, 2011 Comments off

Gardenhire holds team meeting to clear air

By Jordan Schelling /

MILWAUKEE — If he did not want to throw a 3-2 fastball to Prince Fielder, then all Jose Mijares had to do was shake Joe Mauer off, or call him out to the mound.But once he threw that pitch, Mijares should have taken responsibility for it after Fielder ripped it to right field for a go-ahead double, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

“Every player’s got to be accountable, and Mija knows that,” Gardenhire said. “If you have the ball in your hand as a pitcher, and a catcher’s calling something you don’t want to throw, the one rule of this game is that you don’t have to throw it, because you have the ball.”

Gardenhire met with Mijares and Mauer before Saturday’s game, and the Twins also had a team meeting three hours before the first pitch to “clear the air.”

While the lefty reliever did not say anything his manager had not already said Friday night, Gardenhire noted that there was a difference between the manager questioning the pitch selection and the pitcher doing the same.”I can say those things, and I would’ve liked to see a breaking ball, but a pitcher can’t,” Gardenhire said. “If he doesn’t want to throw something, don’t throw it. That’s totally on your own shoulders and that’s being accountable.”

Regardless of who was at fault in the at-bat, Gardenhire made it clear that he did not want the issue to linger within the Twins’ clubhouse.

For that reason, he called the quick pregame meeting.

Though he also would have preferred to see a slider in that situation, Gardenhire said that if Mijares had better executed the pitch and put it where Mauer wanted it, the whole situation may have been avoided.

“I think Joe said it best,” Gardenhire said. “Yes he did call for a fastball, but he did not call a fastball down the middle.”

Gardenhire talks out struggles with Nishioka

MILWAUKEE — Not wanting his shortstop to get frustrated over his struggles at the plate, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire called Tsuyoshi Nishioka into his office after Friday night’s 4-3 loss to talk.

“He needs to keep swinging and get more at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll get better as we go along. I just don’t want him to get too frustrated, bottle it all up, and start worrying about things that he doesn’t need to worry about.”

Nishioka has batted just .160 with two doubles and two RBIs in eight games since returning from the disabled list.

He’s also struck out eight times in 25 at-bats over that stretch, after missing 60 games due to a fractured left fibula.

“He’s back here, he’s been hurt a long time, and I want him to get out there and relax, get some swings in, and I told him that last night,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want him to get too emotionally caught up, worrying about not doing his job.”

Valencia, Braun recall time at Miami

MILWAUKEE — As teammates at the University of Miami, Danny Valencia and Ryan Braun once each hit three-run home runs in the same game.

On Friday night, it was Valencia who put a three-run homer into the seats at Miller Park, giving the Twins a 3-2 lead at the time. Braun said that he wasn’t too thrilled about watching Valencia’s home-run ball go over the left-field fence.

“That’s never fun, you never want to see guys have success against us, but against everybody else I definitely root for him,” Braun said. “I obviously wish him the best, and not just him, but everybody else that we played with as well. It’s pretty cool to see quite a few guys in the Major Leagues and having a lot of success.”

In 2005, Valencia and Braun manned the corner infield spots for the Miami Hurricanes during their sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. They were part of a Miami team that also featured Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay and Indians closer Chris Perez.

During that season, Valencia and Braun combined for 153 hits, 24 home runs and 139 RBIs for Miami, which lost in the Super Regional round to a Nebraska team that featured Alex Gordon at third base and Brian Duensing out of the bullpen.

The two still remain in touch with each other and many other Miami teammates.

“Yeah, of course, man,” Braun said. “I follow everybody, keep in touch with everybody. He’s doing well, I’m happy for him and it’s good to see. Especially because obviously he wasn’t a high Draft pick, so the fact that he’s made it is that much more impressive. And he’s gotten an opportunity, really taken advantage of it, and done really well.”

During batting practice on Friday before the series kicked off, the two took a few minutes to catch up.

They only spent the one season together before Braun was drafted fifth overall by the Brewers, but Valencia said he enjoyed playing with Braun and all the talented players on that Miami team.

“I looked up to him because he was just a really, really talented player,” Valencia said. “He was a good guy, he’s hilarious and he’s fun to be around. He keeps everything loose, makes you feel comfortable.”

Slowey tosses two frames in Class A

MILWAUKEE — Twins head trainer Rick McWane gave quick updates on Saturday on right-hander Kevin Slowey and outfielders Denard Span and Jason Kubel.

Slowey threw two innings on Saturday night in Class A Advanced, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts.

Kubel ran the bases on Saturday and will do the same on Sunday before joining the Twins for a full workout on Monday at Target Field.

Span had another good day on Saturday and will be reevaluated when the Twins return home.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker’s solid effort for naught vs. Crew

June 24, 2011 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — The Twins had pitched around Prince Fielder all night. And when they finally gave him a pitch to hit in the seventh inning, he didn’t miss it.

Fielder struck out to lead off the second, then walked on six pitches in the fourth before being intentionally walked in the fifth. Lefty Jose Mijares fell behind, 3-0, on Fielder in the seventh, and when he put a 3-2 fastball over the plate, Fielder ripped a double to right, giving the Brewers a 4-3 victory over the Twins.

“Ended up making a bad pitch to Fielder and he got us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We tried to not let the guy beat us, and he ended up beating us.”

Mijares threw six fastballs to Fielder, the first three of which missed the zone. After two called strikes, Twins catcher Joe Mauer set up away for another fastball, but Mijares left it over the plate for Fielder.

Gardenhire questioned the decision to have his lefty reliever throw six straight fastballs to a left-handed slugger like Fielder.

“I’m just disappointed because we threw six straight fastballs,” Gardenhire said. “Looking for a breaking ball, even 3-2, and we never threw it; we threw another fastball. And that’s disappointing to me because we have to execute better than that.

“He made a terrible pitch. We damn sure don’t want Prince to beat us, and he did. The guy’s a great hitter, that’s what he does. That’s what he does best.”

Mijares said that he had been throwing the slider in the bullpen warming up, and it had been working well. It was not so effective the last time he pitched, which may have contributed to Mauer’s pitch selection.

Still, Mijares was surprised that the All-Star catcher called for all fastballs.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Mauer,” Mijares said. “He never put down a sign for breaking ball. Never. It was fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball.”

Mauer said that it was easy to question the pitch selection in retrospect, but that he believed it was the best chance for Mijares to get Fielder out at the time.

He also noted that location was an issue when Mijares did throw the fastball.

“Called for a fastball there,” Mauer said. “I didn’t call for it down the middle.”

With a one-run lead, Gardenhire said that he did not want to put the go-ahead run at second base, even after Mijares fell behind 3-0.

Fielder said he was just looking for a good pitch to hit.

“I didn’t know what they were going to do, that’s why I just kind of took it [3-0], to see what was going on and, you know, I’m not surprised,” Fielder said. “They’re trying to get me out and that’s their job.”

Fielder’s late double ruined what could have been a fourth straight quality start for Twins right-hander Scott Baker.

Baker still delivered a solid start, but surrendered four runs on eight hits, with the last two runs coming on the double given up by Mijares. Baker struggled a bit with his command, walking four batters while also recording four strikeouts.

After leaving in position for a win, Baker took his fifth loss.

“In that situation, of course you want to pitch to the guy,” Baker said. “I don’t care who’s coming in behind you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best closer in baseball or the 12th or 13th pitcher. As a starting pitcher, you do not want to leave [with] guys on base.”

All four Brewers runs came on doubles, as Corey Hart and Ryan Braun also doubled home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

After opening the series in San Francisco with an eight-run first inning, the Twins scored just three runs over the final 26 innings against the Giants. Minnesota put up three in the sixth on Friday night with one swing by Danny Valencia.

Following a Michael Cuddyer one-out walk and a Delmon Young single, Valencia put the first pitch he saw from lefty Randy Wolf into the seats, his eighth home run of the season. Valencia also increased his team-leading RBI total to 36.

Wolf had given up just three hits and two walks prior to the sixth inning, and finished with three runs allowed over seven innings for his sixth win of the season.

“A disappointing loss for our ballclub,” Gardenhire said. “That’s tough to take right now. Bake pitched his tail off for us, and did very, very well. We brought the left-handed matchup and it didn’t work out for us.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins notebook, 6/17

June 17, 2011 Comments off

Mauer back behind dish and batting third

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer was put right back in a familiar spot in the Twins lineup for the first time since April 12, batting third and playing catcher.

That still didn’t keep the 2009 American League MVP from feeling a little nervous.

“It’s been a long time since I stepped in the box,” Mauer said. “I tried to keep it simple tonight. A pretty tough lefty [was] out there tonight and I just tried to use the whole field and stay up the middle.”

Mauer didn’t waste much time getting his first hit in two months, either.

With a runner on and one out, Mauer hit a 92-mph fastball back up the middle, scoring Alexi Casilla from second base for his fifth RBI of the season.

“It was awesome,” Mauer said. “It was a good night.”

His other three at-bats did not go so well — Mauer finished 1-for-4 — but it still was a successful return for the St. Paul native as the Twins picked up the 6-5 victory.

Mauer said it felt good to be back in the lineup and behind the plate. Left-handed starter Brian Duensing said he and Mauer didn’t miss a beat.

“It felt the same,” Duensing said. “Seeing him back there just kind of felt like he’s been back there for a while. So it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.”

Even with his offense playing so well lately, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he had no hesitation about putting the four-time All-Star in his usual spot in the order right away.

“You get the people you started with, and if we get them healthy and on the field, we expect to win with that group,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, is get all of our healthy guys back on.”

For Mauer, it was his 710th career start batting in the three hole. He has just 96 combined starts in any of the other eight spots in the order, with 67 of those coming in the No. 2 hole.

Mauer had been batting second before hitting the disabled list two months ago, mainly due to the absence of Tsuyoshi Nishioka at the top of the order. Now, with Ben Revere leading off and Casilla swinging a hot bat in the two spot, Mauer is back in the three spot.

In nine games before going on the DL, Mauer batted .235, with a .289 OBP and .265 slugging, with a double and four RBIs. Mauer went 6-for-23 in seven rehab games with Class-A Advanced Fort Myers. He had two doubles, a home run and six RBIs for the Miracle.

Gardenhire put out his 64th different batting order Friday due to all of the Twins’ injuries. He has not used any one batting order more than twice this season, and the Opening Day lineup has not taken the field at home yet this season. But getting Mauer and Nishioka back should begin to make things easier on his filling out the lineup card.

“It’s not easy, but you just have to kind of ad lib a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “Kind of break the lineup up a bit and see what happens.”

Gardenhire: Perkins ready to go as setup man

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would have no problem using lefty Glen Perkins in the eighth inning Friday night. He stuck to that, calling on Perkins to preserve a 6-5 lead against the Padres.

“It’s like I never left,” Perkins said. “That was good. Get right in there and get thrown in the fire, I like that.”

Perkins showed there was no need for him to be eased back in at all, pitching an impressive scoreless inning. After giving up a leadoff single, Perkins retired the last three batters he faced, two of them on strikeouts.

Before being sidelined by a strained right oblique, Perkins was the Twins’ most effective reliever in April and for the first three weeks of May.

He showed no sign of doing anything different in his return, lowering his ERA to 1.52 in 23 2/3 innings of work. Perkins has 24 strikeouts in 23 appearances.

“His fastball was jumping,” Gardenhire said. “He had a couple nice breaking balls, but the fastball was coming out of his hand, that was evident. The last guy he threw to, he really just let it fly, and said ‘Here it is.’ The ball was jumping out of his hand pretty good.”

Reliever Joe Nathan (elbow soreness) is scheduled to begin a rehab stint on Saturday with Triple-A Rochester, and could come off the disabled list as soon as next Friday in Milwaukee.

Gardenhire said he wants Nathan to pitch three times for the Red Wings in the next week, with the latter two being on back-to-back days.

Gardenhire suggested a potential schedule of Nathan making his first appearance Sunday, followed by back-to-back outings on Tuesday and Wednesday, with an off-day Thursday before returning Friday.

“He said he feels great, the arm feels as good as it could feel,” Gardenhire said. “We get three games out there, that’d be great. And then we’ll see where we’re at with him.”

Right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) was scheduled for long toss on Friday and Saturday, as well as a full bullpen session Sunday in Fort Myers.

“He’s pretty optimistic that he can start facing some hitters sometime in this next week,” said Twins head trainer Rick McWane.

Mauer homers, ramps up rehab work

June 10, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins catcher Joe Mauer caught his third straight game for Fort Myers on Friday, marking the first time he had caught three days in a row during his rehab. In his first at-bat, he hit a three-run home run.

Mauer, who is on the 60-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness, was scheduled for a full workout on Saturday before catching again Sunday, after which he’ll be eligible to return.

“I talked to him today, he feels great,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Arm feels good, his body feels good after catching two days. … He actually says he’s feeling really good, better than he has in a long time.”

Gardenhire said they would decide on the next step in Mauer’s rehab process after he caught on Sunday.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka led off and played shortstop at Fort Myers for the third straight game as well on Friday. Nishioka went 1-for-3 with a stolen base Thursday night.

Gardenhire said he had talked on the phone with Nishioka on Friday as well, discussing his likely trip to Triple-A Rochester before rejoining the Twins.

“It’s a little faster game at Triple-A than in the lower Minor Leagues,” Gardenhire said. “We’ll see what happens from there. They tell me he’s been moving around really good out there, hopefully that’s the case.”

Reliever Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) took a day off from throwing Friday. His return date is still TBD.

Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Jason Kubel continued to make progress, hitting in the cage on Friday and progressing his running. He is eligible to return next Friday.

Joe Nathan is still scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday and will fly to Fort Myers later Saturday afternoon. Lefty reliever Glen Perkins will throw one inning Saturday in Toledo for Triple-A Rochester.

McWane also gave an update on center fielder Denard Span, who continues to receive treatment for his whiplash and concussion symptoms.

“He’s getting treatment on his neck,” McWane said. “He’s also going to go continue testing for his concussion symptoms and doing balance work.”

Designated hitter Jim Thome had an epidural Friday morning, and said after the Twins’ 9-2 loss to the Rangers that he hopes to begin baseball activities in a few days.

“It was just a little of pain in my lower back and the inflammation around my disk had to calm down,” said Thome, who received a similar shot in 2002. “So that was the process and that’s why they went in and did what they did. So we’ll see where we’re at. The discomfort has definitely calmed down, so that’s a good thing.”